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Life Insurance and Household Consumption

  • Jay H. Hong
  • José-Víctor Ríos-Rull

Using life insurance holdings by age, sex, and marital status, we infer how individuals value consumption in different demographic stages. We estimate equivalence scales and bequest motives simultaneously within a fully specified model where agents face US demographics and save and purchase life insurance. Our findings indicate that individuals are very caring for dependents, that economies of scale are large, that children are very costly (or yield very high marginal utility), that wives with children produce lots of home goods, and that females display habits from marriage, while men do not. These findings contrast sharply with standard equivalence scales.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 7 (December)
Pages: 3701-30

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:7:p:3701-30
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.102.7.3701
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  1. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1991. "How Strong Are Bequest Motives? Evidence Based on Estimates of the Demand for Life Insurance and Annuities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 899-927, October.
  2. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., . "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity, Portfolio Choice, and Equilibrium Asset Returns," GSIA Working Papers 1997-45, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  3. Chiappori, P.A., 1989. "Collective Labour Supply and Welfare," DELTA Working Papers 89-07, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  4. Igal Hendel & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2003. "The Role Of Commitment In Dynamic Contracts: Evidence From Life Insurance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 299-327, February.
  5. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Martin Browning, 1994. "The Saving Behaviour of a Two Person Household," Discussion Papers 96-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Jan 1996.
  7. Browning, Martin, 1992. "Children and Household Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1434-75, September.
  8. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
  9. Orazio Attanasio & Hamish Low & Virginia Sanchez-Marcos, 2008. "Explaining Changes in Female Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1517-52, September.
  10. Greenwood, J. & Guner, N. & Knkwles, J., 1999. "More on Marriage, Fertility, and the Distribution of Income," Papers 9904, London School of Economics - Centre for Labour Economics.
  11. Jeremy Lise & Shannon Seitz, 2007. "Consumption inequality and intra-household allocations," IFS Working Papers W07/09, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  12. Martin Browning & P.A. Chiappori, 1996. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations - A General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Discussion Papers 96-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Edward C. Prescott & Terry Fitzgerald & Fernando Alvarez, 1992. "Banking in computable general equilibrium economies," Staff Report 153, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  15. 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.
  16. Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde & Dirk Krueger, 2002. "Consumption over the Life Cycle: Facts from Consumer Expenditure Survey Data," NBER Working Papers 9382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Attanasio, O.P. & Browning, M., 1993. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle and Over the Business Cycle," Papers 9314, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  18. Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Dirk Krueger, 2003. "Consumption over the Life Cycle: Some Facts from Consumer Expenditure Survey Data," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000304, David K. Levine.
  19. Shelly Lundberg & Richard Startz & Steven Stillman, 2001. "The Retirement-Consumption Puzzle: A Marital Bargaining Approach," Working Papers 01-04, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  20. 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.
  21. Jay Hong & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2006. "Social Security, Life Insurance and Annuities for Families," 2006 Meeting Papers 410, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  22. Fischer, Stanley, 1973. "A Life Cycle Model of Life Insurance Purchases," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(1), pages 132-52, February.
  23. Lewis, Frank D, 1989. "Dependents and the Demand for Life Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 452-67, June.
  24. repec:bla:restud:v:74:y:2007:i:3:p:857-895 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  26. Matthew S. Chambers & Don E. Schlagenhauf, 2004. "Husbands Might Really Be That Cheap," 2004 Meeting Papers 146, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  27. B. Douglas Bernheim & Lorenzo Forni & Jagadeesh Gokhale & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 2001. "The mismatch between life insurance holdings and financial vulnerabilities: evidence from the Health and Retirement Survey," Working Paper 0109, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  28. Cubeddu, Luis & Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor, 2003. "Families as Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 3924, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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