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The Retirement-Consumption Puzzle: A Marital Bargaining Approach

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  • Shelly Lundberg
  • Richard Startz
  • Steven Stillman

Abstract

Evidence from several countries reveals a substantial drop in household consumption around the age of retirement that is difficult to explain with life-cycle models. Using food consumption data from more than 550 households from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for the years 1979-1986 and 1989-1992, the authors find that married couple households decrease their expenditures on food consumed both at home and away from home by about 8 percent following the retirement of the male household head. This result is robust for several alternative definitions of retirement. No significant decrease in consumption is found for single households, either in a sample of males or a pooled sample of single males and females. These results are consistent with a model of marital bargaining in which wives prefer to save more than their husbands to support an expected longer retirement period, and relative control over household decisions is affected by control over market income.

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Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 01-04.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:01-04

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  1. Maurizio Mazzocco, 2007. "Household Intertemporal Behaviour: A Collective Characterization and a Test of Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 857-895.
  2. Lundberg, S. & Pollak, R.A., 1991. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 91-08, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  3. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
  4. Orazio P. Attanasio & Guglielmo Weber, 1994. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," NBER Working Papers 4795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. B. Douglas Bernheim & Jonathan Skinner & Steven Weinberg, 1997. "What Accounts for the Variation in Retirement Wealth Among U.S. Households?," NBER Working Papers 6227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Tanner, Sarah, 1998. "Is There a Retirement-Savings Puzzle?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 769-88, September.
  7. Shelly Lundberg & Robert Pollak, 2003. "Efficiency in Marriage," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 153-167, September.
  8. Euwals, Rob & Börsch-Supan, Axel H. & Eymann, Angelika, 2000. "The Saving Behaviour of Two Person Households: Evidence from Dutch Panel Data," IZA Discussion Papers 238, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  10. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1984. "Consumption during Retirement: The Missing Link in the Life Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(1), pages 1-7, February.
  11. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  12. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2001. "The Life-Cycle Model of Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
  13. Saku Aura, . "Does the balance of power within a family matter? The case of the Retirement Equity Act," Working Papers 202, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  14. Laibson, David I., 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," Scholarly Articles 4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  15. Chiappori, P.A., 1989. "Collective Labour Supply and Welfare," DELTA Working Papers 89-07, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  16. A. L. Robb & J. B. Burbidge, 1989. "Consumption, Income, and Retirement," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 22(3), pages 522-42, August.
  17. repec:bla:restud:v:74:y:2007:i:3:p:857-895 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Akerlof, George A, 1991. "Procrastination and Obedience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 1-19, May.
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