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Household Saving in Germany: Results of the first SAVE study

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  • Axel Borsch-Supan
  • Lothar Essig
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    Abstract

    Germany is an interesting country to study saving among older households since nearly everyone - whether in the middle income bracket or richer - saves substantial amounts in old age. Only households in the lowest quarter of the income distribution spend more between the ages of 60 and 75 than they save. Our paper exploits newly collected data, the first wave of the so-called SAVE panel, specifically collected to understand economic, psychological and sociological determinants of saving. Overall, we find extraordinarily stable savings patterns. More than 40% of German households save regularly a fixed amount. About 25% of German households plan their savings and have a clearly defined savings target in mind. Most of German household saving is in the form of contractual saving, such as saving plans, whole life insurance and building society contracts. This makes the flow of saving rather unresponsive to economic fluctuations, such as income shocks. Most households prefer to cut consumption if ends do not meet. In particular the elderly do not like to use credit cards, and they eschew debt. We suspect large cohort differences and will study them once further waves of the SAVE panel will become available.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9902.

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    Date of creation: Aug 2003
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    Publication status: published as Wise, David A. (ed.) Analyses in the Economics of Aging. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9902

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    1. Christopher D. Carroll & Andrew A. Samwick, 1995. "How Important is Precautionary Saving?," NBER Working Papers 5194, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Borsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 2001. "The German Savings Puzzle," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 15-38, March.
    3. Abel, Andrew B, 1985. "Precautionary Saving and Accidental Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 777-91, September.
    4. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Doing It Now or Later," Discussion Papers 1172, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    5. Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco, 1988. "Consumption and Capital Market Imperfection: An International Comparison," CEPR Discussion Papers 244, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Bernheim, B Douglas & Shleifer, Andrei & Summers, Lawrence H, 1985. "The Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1045-76, December.
    7. Harald Uhlig & Martin Lettau, 1999. "Rules of Thumb versus Dynamic Programming," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 148-174, March.
    8. Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-26, Sept./Oct.
    9. Borsch-Supan, Axel, 1992. "Saving and Consumption Patterns of the Elderly: The German Case," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 289-303.
    10. Hurd, Michael D, 1987. "Savings of the Elderly and Desired Bequests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 298-312, June.
    11. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
    12. Anette Reil-Held, 1999. "Bequests and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation in Germany," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 24(1), pages 50-63, January.
    13. Tullio Jappelli & Franco Modigliani, 1998. "The Age-Saving Profile and the Life-Cycle Hypothesis," CSEF Working Papers 09, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    14. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
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    Cited by:
    1. Lothar Essig & Joachim Winter, 2003. "Item nonresponse to financial questions in household surveys: An experimental study of interviewer and mode effects," MEA discussion paper series 03039, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    2. Erik Hurst & Arthur Kennickell & Annamaria Lusardi & Francisco Torralba, 2005. "Precautionary Savings and the Importance of Business Owners," NBER Working Papers 11731, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lothar Essig, 2005. "Household Saving in Germany: Results from SAVE 2001-2003," MEA discussion paper series 05083, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    4. Arthur Kennickell & Annamaria Lusardi, 2004. "Disentangling the Importance of the Precautionary Saving Mode," NBER Working Papers 10888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Jan Babecky & Kamil Dybczak, 2009. "The Impact of Population Ageing on the Czech Economy," Working Papers 2009/1, Czech National Bank, Research Department.
    6. Martin Beznoska & Richard Ochmann, 2010. "Household Savings Decision and Income Uncertainty," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1046, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Essig, Lothar, 2004. "Household Saving in Germany:," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 05-23, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim & Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    8. Lothar Essig, 2005. "Precautionary saving and old-age provisions: Do subjective saving motive measures work?," MEA discussion paper series 05084, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    9. Ernesto Villanueva, 2005. "Inter vivos transfers and bequests in three OECD countries," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 20(43), pages 505-565, 07.

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