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Household Saving in Australia

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Author Info

  • Richard Finlay

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

  • Fiona Price

    (Reserve Bank of Australia)

Abstract

This paper investigates household saving behaviour in Australia, as well as the drivers behind the recent rise in the aggregate household saving ratio. Our results explaining differences in saving behaviour across households are consistent with theory and previous findings. As might be expected, households' saving ratios tend to increase with income, but decrease with wealth and gearing. Financially constrained and migrant households tend to save more than other households, all else equal. While saving differs substantially across age groups we find that, at least in part, this reflects differing circumstances. Our results suggest that the rise in household saving between 2003/04 and 2009/10 was driven by changes in the saving behaviour associated with certain household characteristics, rather than changes in characteristics: households with less secure income and/or those vulnerable to asset price shocks, higher-educated households, younger households with debt and older households with wealth increased their propensity to save. While our results inform which households changed their saving behaviour, we are unable to definitively conclude what caused this change in behaviour. Our interpretation of these results is that precautionary saving motives, a reduction in future income expectations for higher-educated households, an effort to rebuild wealth after the financial crisis and changing attitudes to debt contributed to the rise in the household saving ratio, although other interpretations of the data are possible.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Reserve Bank of Australia in its series RBA Research Discussion Papers with number rdp2014-03.

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Date of creation: Apr 2014
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Handle: RePEc:rba:rbardp:rdp2014-03

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Keywords: household saving; micro data;

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References

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  1. Marcos Chamon & Eswar Prasad, 2008. "Why Are Saving Rates of Urban Households in China Rising?," IMF Working Papers 08/145, International Monetary Fund.
  2. Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  3. Asadul Islam & Jaai Parasnis & Dietrich Fausten, 2013. "Do Immigrants Save Less than Natives? Immigrant and Native Saving Behaviour in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 89(284), pages 52-71, 03.
  4. 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.
  5. Muellbauer, John, 2007. "Housing and Personal Wealth in a Global Context," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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  7. Orazio P. Attanasio & Guglielmo Weber, 2010. "Consumption and Saving: Models of Intertemporal Allocation and Their Implications for Public Policy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(3), pages 693-751, September.
  8. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  9. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1797-1855, December.
  10. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2000. "Do the Rich Save More?," NBER Working Papers 7906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Laura Berger-Thomson & Elaine Chung & Rebecca McKibbin, 2009. "Estimating Marginal Propensities to Consume in Australia Using Micro Data," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2009-07, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  12. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
  13. José Mata & José A. F. Machado, 2005. "Counterfactual decomposition of changes in wage distributions using quantile regression," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 445-465.
  14. John Sabelhaus & Jeffrey A. Groen, 2000. "Can Permanent-Income Theory Explain Cross-Sectional Consumption Patterns?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(3), pages 431-438, August.
  15. Iacoviello, Matteo, 2004. "Consumption, house prices, and collateral constraints: a structural econometric analysis," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 304-320, December.
  16. Nikola Dvornak & Marion Kohler, 2003. "Housing Wealth, Stock Market Wealth and Consumption: A Panel Analysis for Australia," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2003-07, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  17. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
  18. Callan Windsor & Jarkko Jääskelä & Richard Finlay, 2013. "Home Prices and Household Spending," RBA Research Discussion Papers rdp2013-04, Reserve Bank of Australia.
  19. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2011. "Viewpoint: Further results on measuring the well-being of the poor using income and consumption," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(1), pages 52-87, February.
  20. 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. Susan Black & Lamorna Rogers & Albina Soultanaeva, 2012. "Households' Appetite for Financial Risk," RBA Bulletin, Reserve Bank of Australia, pages 37-42, June.

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