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Inequality over the business cycle: Estimating income risk using micro-data on consumption

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  • Giorgio Primiceri
  • Thijs van Rens

Abstract

We use CEX repeated cross-section data on consumption and income, to evaluate the nature of increased income inequality in the 1980s and 90s. We decompose unexpected changes in family income into transitory and permanent, and idiosyncratic and aggregate components, and estimate the contribution of each component to total inequality. The model we use is a linearized incomplete markets model, enriched to incorporate risk-sharing while maintaining tractability. Our estimates suggest that taking risk sharing into account is important for the model fit; that the increase in inequality in the 1980s was mainly permanent; and that inequality is driven almost entirely by idiosyncratic income risk. In addition we find no evidence for cyclical behavior of consumption risk, casting doubt on Constantinides and Duffie’s (1995) explanation for the equity premium puzzle.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 943.

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Date of creation: Jul 2002
Date of revision: Oct 2004
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:943

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Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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Keywords: Consumption; inequality; risk; incomplete markets; business cycle;

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  1. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2005. "Does income inequality lead to consumption equality? evidence and theory," Staff Report 363, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Garey Ramey & Valerie A. Ramey, 1994. "Cross-Country Evidence on the Link Between Volatility and Growth," NBER Working Papers 4959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alon Brav & George M. Constantinides & Christopher C. Geczy, 2002. "Asset Pricing with Heterogeneous Consumers and Limited Participation: Empirical Evidence," NBER Working Papers 8822, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Christopher D. Carroll, 1997. "Death to the Log-Linearized Consumption Euler Equation! (And Very Poor Health to the Second-Order Approximation)," NBER Working Papers 6298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-67, June.
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  10. Krüger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3583, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  21. Constantinides, George M & Duffie, Darrell, 1996. "Asset Pricing with Heterogeneous Consumers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(2), pages 219-40, April.
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  24. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Chris I. & Yaron, Amir, 2001. "The welfare cost of business cycles revisited: Finite lives and cyclical variation in idiosyncratic risk," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(7), pages 1311-1339.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Walentin Karl, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and the Equity Premium," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-23, November.
  2. Lorenzo Pozzi, 2007. "Idiosyncratic Labour Income Risk and Aggregate Consumption: an Unobserved Component Approach," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-069/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  3. Primiceri, Giorgio E. & van Rens, Thijs, 2007. "Heterogeneous Life-Cycle Profiles, Income Risk and Consumption Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 3239, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Lorenzo Pozzi, 2007. "Idiosyncratic Labour Income Risk and Aggregate Consumption: an Unobserved Component Approach," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-069/2, Tinbergen Institute.
  5. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2004. "The Cross-Sectional Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 4296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Pozzi, Lorenzo, 2010. "Idiosyncratic labour income risk and aggregate consumption: An unobserved component approach," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 169-184, March.

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