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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. 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.
  2. Krusell, Per & Smith, Anthony A., 1997. "Income And Wealth Heterogeneity, Portfolio Choice, And Equilibrium Asset Returns," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 387-422, June.
  3. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
  4. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1989. "How Strong are Bequest Motives? Evidence Based on Estimates of the Demand for Life Insurance and Annuities," NBER Working Papers 2942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  7. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective Labor Supply and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 437-67, June.
  8. Cubeddu, Luis & Ríos-Rull, José-Víctor, 2003. "Families as Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 3924, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Jeremy Lise & Shannon Seitz, 2004. "Consumption Inequality and Intra-Household Allocations," Working Papers 1019, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  10. Lewis, Frank D, 1989. "Dependents and the Demand for Life Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 452-67, June.
  11. Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Edward C. Prescott & Terry J. Fitzgerald & Fernando Alvarez, 1992. "Banking in computable general equilibrium economies," Staff Report 153, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. 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.
  13. Lundberg, Shelly & Startza, Richard & Stillman, Steven, 2003. "The retirement-consumption puzzle: a marital bargaining approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(5-6), pages 1199-1218, May.
  14. Martin Browning & Pierre-Andre Chiappori, 1994. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations: a General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Department of Economics Working Papers 1994-02, McMaster University.
  15. Jay Hong & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2006. "Social Security, Life Insurance and Annuities for Families," 2006 Meeting Papers 410, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  16. Dirk Krueger & Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde, 2004. "Consumption over the Life Cycle: Some Facts from Consumer Expenditure Survey Data," 2004 Meeting Papers 173, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. 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.
  18. Attanasio, O.P. & Browning, M.J., 1993. "Consumption over the life cycle and over the business cycle," Discussion Paper 1993-14, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  19. 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.
  20. Martin Browning, 1994. "The Saving Behaviour of a Two Person Household," Department of Economics Working Papers 1994-01, McMaster University.
  21. Jesus Fernández-Villaverde & Dirk Krueger, 2007. "Consumption over the Life Cycle: Facts from Consumer Expenditure Survey Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 552-565, August.
  22. Matthew S. Chambers & Don E. Schlagenhauf, 2004. "Husbands Might Really Be That Cheap," 2004 Meeting Papers 146, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  23. 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.
  24. Browning, Martin, 1992. "Children and Household Economic Behavior," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1434-75, September.
  25. repec:oup:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:3:p:659-84 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
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