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Deconstructing Lifecycle Expenditure

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  • Erik Hurst

    (University of Chicago GSB)

  • Mark Aguiar

    (Univerity of Rochester)

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    Abstract

    In this paper we revisit two well-known facts regarding lifecycle expenditures. The first is the familiar "hump" shaped lifecycle profile of nondurable expenditures. We document that the behavior of total nondurables masks surprising heterogeneity in the lifecycle profile of individual sub-components. We find, for example, that while food expenditures decline after middle age, expenditures on entertainment continue to increase throughout the lifecycle. These patterns pose a challenge to familiar lifecycle models that emphasize inter-temporal substitution or movements in income, including standard models of precautionary savings, myopia, and limited commitment. Secondly, we document that the increase in the cross-sectional dispersion of expenditure over the lifecycle is not greater for luxuries. In particular, the dispersion in entertainment expenditure declines relative to food expenditures as households become older, casting further doubt on theories that emphasize (exclusively) shocks to permanent income. We propose and test a Beckerian model that emphasizes intra-temporal substitution between time and expenditures as the opportunity cost of time varies over the lifecycle. We find this alternative model successfully explains the joint behavior of food and entertainment expenditures in the latter half of the lifecycle. The model, however, is less successful in explaining expenditure patterns during the early half of the lifecycle.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2008 Meeting Papers with number 771.

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    Date of creation: 2008
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    Handle: RePEc:red:sed008:771

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    1. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    2. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2004. "Consumption vs. Expenditure," NBER Working Papers 10307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, octubre-d.
    4. Fatih Guvenen, 2009. "An Empirical Investigation of Labor Income Processes," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(1), pages 58-79, January.
    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. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2006. "Baby Boomer Retirement Security: The Roles of Planning, Financial Literacy, and Housing Wealth," CeRP Working Papers 54, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
    7. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2005. "Two Views of Inequality Over the Life Cycle," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 765-775, 04/05.
    8. Gilbert Ghez & Gary S. Becker, 1975. "A Theory of the Allocation of Time and Goods Over the Life Cycle," NBER Chapters, in: The Allocation of Time and Goods over the Life Cycle, pages 1-45 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2005. "Estimating Discount Functions with Consumption Choices over the Lifecycle," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000643, UCLA Department of Economics.
    10. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1995. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1121-57, December.
    11. John Laitner & Dan Silverman, 2005. "Estimating Life—Cycle Parameters from Consumption Behavior at Retirement”," Working Papers wp099, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    12. Gilbert Ghez & Gary S. Becker, 1975. "The Allocation of Time and Goods over the Life Cycle," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ghez75-1, octubre-d.
    13. Thurow, Lester C, 1969. "The Optimum Lifetime Distribution of Consumption Expenditures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(3), pages 324-30, June.
    14. Deaton, A. & Paxson, C., 1993. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Papers 168, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
    15. Milton Friedman, 1957. "Introduction to "A Theory of the Consumption Function"," NBER Chapters, in: A Theory of the Consumption Function, pages 1-6 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2000. "Luxuries Are Easier to Postpone: A Proof," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1022-1026, October.
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    Cited by:
    1. Marcelo Santos & Pedro Cavalcanti Ferreira, 2011. "The Effect of Social Security, Health, Demography and Technology on Retirement," 2011 Meeting Papers 903, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Rong Hai & Dirk Krueger & Andrew Postlewaite, 2013. "On the Welfare Cost of Consumption Fluctuations in the Presence of Memorable Goods," NBER Working Papers 19386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Erich Battistin & Agar Brugiavini & Enrico Rettore & Guglielmo Weber, 2009. "The Retirement Consumption Puzzle: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2209-26, December.
    4. Miles S. Kimball & Matthew D. Shapiro, 2008. "Labor Supply: Are the Income and Substitution Effects Both Large or Both Small?," NBER Working Papers 14208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Sabelhaus, John & Song, Jae, 2010. "The great moderation in micro labor earnings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 391-403, May.
    6. Rong Hai & Andrew Postlewaite & Dirk Krueger, 2013. "On the Welfare Cost of Consumption Fluctuations in the Presence of Memorable Goods, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 14-012, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 15 Apr 2014.

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