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Precautionary Saving and Consumption Smoothing Across Time and Possibilities

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  • Miles Kimball

    (Survery Research Center (SRC))

  • Philippe Weil

Abstract

This Paper examines how aversion to risk and aversion to intertemporal substitution determines the strength of the precautionary saving motive in a two-period model with Kreps-Porteus preferences. For small risks, we derive a measure of the strength of the precautionary saving motive, which generalizes the concept of ‘prudence’ introduced by Kimball (1990b). For large risks, we show that decreasing absolute risk aversion guarantees that the precautionary saving motive is stronger than risk aversion, regardless of the elasticity of intertemporal substitution. Holding risk preferences fixed, the extent to which the precautionary saving motive is stronger than risk aversion increases with the elasticity of intertemporal substitution. We derive sufficient conditions for a change in risk preferences alone to increase the strength of the precautionary saving motive and for the strength of the precautionary saving motive to decline with wealth. Within the class of constant elasticity of intertemporal substitution, constant-relative risk aversion utility functions, these conditions are also necessary.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number 4005.

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Date of creation: Aug 2003
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Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/8704

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Keywords: Consumption; intertemporal substitution; Kreps-Porteus; precautionary; risk aversion; saving; smoothing and uncertainty;

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References

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  1. Pratt, John W, 1988. " Aversion to One Risk in the Presence of Others," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(4), pages 395-413, December.
  2. Barsky, Robert B, 1989. "Why Don't the Prices of Stocks and Bonds Move Together?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1132-45, December.
  3. Jonathan S. Skinner, 1987. "Risky Income, Life Cycle Consumption, and Precautionary Savings," NBER Working Papers 2336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Miles S. Kimball, 1989. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," NBER Working Papers 2848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Romer, David & Williams, Steve, 1981. "Risk Aversion with Random Initial Wealth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 911-20, June.
  6. repec:fth:harver:1421 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Robert B. Barsky & Miles S. Kimball & F. Thomas Juster & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1995. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Survey," NBER Working Papers 5213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Lars Peter Hansen & Thomas J. Sargent & Thomas D. Tallarini Jr., 1997. "Robust Permanent Income and Pricing," Levine's Working Paper Archive 596, David K. Levine.
  9. Selden, Larry, 1978. "A New Representation of Preferences over "Certain A Uncertain" Consumption Pairs: The "Ordinal Certainty Equivalent" Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1045-60, September.
  10. Kreps, David M & Porteus, Evan L, 1978. "Temporal Resolution of Uncertainty and Dynamic Choice Theory," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 185-200, January.
  11. Weil, Philippe, 1990. "Nonexpected Utility in Macroeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 29-42, February.
  12. Weil, Philippe, 1993. "Precautionary Savings and the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 367-83, April.
  13. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 275-98, May.
  14. Miles S. Kimball, 1990. "Precautionary Saving and the Marginal Propensity to Consume," NBER Working Papers 3403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. DREZE, Jacques H. & MODIGLIANI, Franco, . "Cosumption decisions under uncertainty," CORE Discussion Papers RP -119, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  16. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1989. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: A Theoretical Framework," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 937-69, July.
  17. Caballero, R.J., 1988. "Consumption Puzzles And Precautionary Savings," Discussion Papers 1988_05, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  18. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-57, April.
  19. Kimball, Miles S & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1989. "Precautionary Saving and the Timing of Taxes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 863-79, August.
  20. Farmer, Roger E A, 1990. "Rince Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(1), pages 43-60, February.
  21. Miles S. Kimball, 1991. "Precautionary Motives for Holding Assets," NBER Working Papers 3586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Barsky, Robert B & Mankiw, N Gregory & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1986. "Ricardian Consumers with Keynesian Propensities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 676-91, September.
  23. van der Ploeg, Frederick, 1993. "A Closed-Form Solution for a Model of Precautionary Saving," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 385-95, April.
  24. Alberto Giovannini & Philippe Weil, 1989. "Risk Aversion and Intertemporal Substitution in the Capital Asset Pricing Model," NBER Working Papers 2824, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Barsky, Robert B, et al, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-79, May.
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