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Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance*

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Author

Listed:
  • Richard Blundell
  • Luigi Pistaferri
  • Ian Preston

Abstract

This paper examines the link between income and consumption inequality. We create panel data on consumption for the Panel Study of Income Dynamics using an imputation procedure based on food demand estimates from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. We document a disjuncture between income and consumption inequality over the 1980s and show that it can be explained by changes in the persistence of income shocks. We find some partial insurance of permanent shocks, especially for the college educated and those near retirement. We find full insurance of transitory shocks except among poor households. Taxes, transfers, and family labor supply play an important role in insuring permanent shocks. (JEL D12, D31, D91, E21)

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2008. "Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1887-1921, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:98:y:2008:i:5:p:1887-1921
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.98.5.1887
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Attanasio, Orazio & Davis, Steven J, 1996. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1227-1262, December.
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    3. Joseph G. Altonji & Aloysius Siow, 1987. "Testing the Response of Consumption to Income Changes with (Noisy) Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 293-328.
    4. Altonji, Joseph G. & Martins, Ana Paula & Siow, Aloysius, 2002. "Dynamic factor models of consumption, hours and income," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 3-59, June.
    5. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2000. "Efficiency, Equilibrium, and Asset Pricing with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 775-798, July.
    6. 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 1121-1157, December.
    7. Attanasio, Orazio & Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 2000. "Consumption smoothing in island economies: Can public insurance reduce welfare?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(7), pages 1225-1258, June.
    8. Altonji, Joseph G & Segal, Lewis M, 1996. "Small-Sample Bias in GMM Estimation of Covariance Structures," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(3), pages 353-366, July.
    9. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1989. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 411-445, March.
    10. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
    11. Alan J. Auerbach & Daniel R. Feenberg, 2000. "The Significance of Federal Taxes as Automatic Stabilizers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 37-56, Summer.
    12. Orazio Attanasio & Erich Battistin & Hidehiko Ichimura, 2004. "What Really Happened to Consumption Inequality in the US?," NBER Working Papers 10338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Replication

    This item has been replicated by:
  • Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "How Much Consumption Insurance beyond Self-Insurance?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 53-87, October.
  • More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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    1. Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance (AER 2008) in ReplicationWiki

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