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Check in the Mail or More in the Paycheck: Does the Effectiveness of Fiscal Stimulus Depend on How It Is Delivered?

Author

Listed:
  • Claudia R. Sahm
  • Matthew D. Shapiro
  • Joel Slemrod

Abstract

Recent fiscal policies, including the 2008 stimulus payments and the 2009 Making Work Pay Tax Credit, aimed to increase household spending. This paper quantifies the spending response to these policies and examines differences in spending by whether the stimulus was delivered as a one-time payment or as a flow of payments from reduced withholding. Based on responses from a representative sample of households in the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, the paper finds that the reduction in withholding in 2009 boosted spending at roughly half the rate (13 percent) as the one-time payments (25 percent) in 2008. (JEL D12, E21, E62)

Suggested Citation

  • Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2012. "Check in the Mail or More in the Paycheck: Does the Effectiveness of Fiscal Stimulus Depend on How It Is Delivered?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 216-250, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:4:y:2012:i:3:p:216-50
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.4.3.216
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nicholas S. Souleles & Jonathan A. Parker & David S. Johnson, 2006. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1589-1610, December.
    2. Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2012. "Check in the Mail or More in the Paycheck: Does the Effectiveness of Fiscal Stimulus Depend on How It Is Delivered?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 216-250, August.
    3. Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "The Reaction of Household Consumption to Predictable Changes in Social Security Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 959-973, September.
    4. Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2010. "Household Response to the 2008 Tax Rebate: Survey Evidence and Aggregate Implications," NBER Chapters,in: Tax Policy and the Economy, Volume 24, pages 69-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Damon Jones, 2012. "Inertia and Overwithholding: Explaining the Prevalence of Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 158-185, February.
    6. Souleles, Nicholas S., 2002. "Consumer response to the Reagan tax cuts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 99-120, July.
    7. Chang-Tai Hsieh, 2003. "Do Consumers React to Anticipated Income Changes? Evidence from the Alaska Permanent Fund," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 397-405, March.
    8. Souleles, Nicholas S., 2000. "College tuition and household savings and consumption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 185-207, August.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Tobias Cwik & Volker Wieland, 2011. "Keynesian government spending multipliers and spillovers in the euro area," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 26(67), pages 493-549, July.
    2. Bazzi, Samuel & Sumarto, Sudarno & Suryahadi, Asep, 2015. "It's all in the timing: Cash transfers and consumption smoothing in a developing country," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 267-288.
    3. Karlan, Dean & Osman, Adam & Zinman, Jonathan, 2016. "Follow the money not the cash: Comparing methods for identifying consumption and investment responses to a liquidity shock," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 11-23.
    4. Claudia R. Sahm & Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2012. "Check in the Mail or More in the Paycheck: Does the Effectiveness of Fiscal Stimulus Depend on How It Is Delivered?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 216-250, August.
    5. Zizza, Roberta & Adamopoulou, Effrosyni, 2017. "Regular versus lump-sum payments in union contracts and household consumption," Working Paper Series 2013, European Central Bank.
    6. Bracha, Anat & Cooper, Daniel, 2013. "Asymmetric responses to tax-induced changes in personal income: the 2013 payroll tax hike versus anticipated 2012 tax refunds," Public Policy Brief, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    7. Christopher D. Carroll, 2012. "Implications of Wealth Heterogeneity For Macroeconomics," Economics Working Paper Archive 597, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    8. Bernd Hayo & Matthias Uhl, 2017. "Taxation and consumption: evidence from a representative survey of the German population," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(53), pages 5477-5490, November.
    9. Fuchs-Schündeln, N. & Hassan, T.A., 2016. "Natural Experiments in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    10. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2014. "Transfer Payments and the Macroeconomy: The Effects of Social Security Benefit Changes, 1952-1991," NBER Working Papers 20087, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Miles Kimball, 2015. "Cognitive Economics," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 66(2), pages 167-181, June.
    12. Damon Jones, 2012. "Inertia and Overwithholding: Explaining the Prevalence of Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 158-185, February.
    13. Elinder, Mikael & Persson, Lovisa, 2014. "Property taxation, bounded rationality and housing prices," Working Paper Series, Center for Fiscal Studies 2014:6, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    14. Grant Graziani & Wilbert Van der Klaauw & Basit Zafar, 2013. "A boost in the paycheck: survey evidence on workers’ response to the 2011 payroll tax cuts," Staff Reports 592, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    15. Bracha, Anat & Cooper, Daniel, 2014. "Asymmetric responses to income changes: The payroll tax increase versus tax refund in 2013," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(3), pages 534-538.
    16. Justine Hastings & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2012. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice: Evidence from Commodity Price Shocks," NBER Working Papers 18248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Bazzi, Samuel & Sumarto, Sudarno & Suryahadi, Asep, 2013. "It's All in the Timing:Household Expenditure and Labor Supply Responses to Unconditional Cash Transfers," MPRA Paper 57892, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 31 Nov 2013.
    18. Elinder, Mikael & Persson, Lovisa, 2014. "Property Taxation, Bounded Rationality and House Prices," Working Paper Series 1029, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy

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    1. Check in the Mail or More in the Paycheck: Does the Effectiveness of Fiscal Stimulus Depend on How It Is Delivered? (AEJ:EP 2012) in ReplicationWiki

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