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The Effect of Dividends on Consumption

Author

Listed:
  • Malcolm Baker

    (Harvard University)

  • Stefan Nagel

    (Stanford University)

  • Jeffrey Wurgler

    (New York University)

Abstract

In classical models the division of stock returns into dividends and capital gains has no "real" consequence for investor consumption. This paper, using two micro data sets that provide cross-sectional variation in dividend receipts and capital gains, empirically measures the effect of dividends on investor consumption. Analysis of data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey indicates that household consumption is particularly sensitive to realized dividend income, when one controls for total portfolio returns including dividends. Analysis of data from a discount brokerage shows that dividends are withdrawn from household portfolios at a much higher rate than capital gains, further suggesting that the form of returns matters for consumption and that investors pursue a mental accounting strategy to "consume income, not principal." Finally, the paper discusses what these estimates imply for the response of aggregate consumption to the May 2003 dividend tax cuts in the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Malcolm Baker & Stefan Nagel & Jeffrey Wurgler, 2007. "The Effect of Dividends on Consumption," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 38(1), pages 231-292.
  • Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:38:y:2007:i:2007-1:p:231-292
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Harris, Lawrence E. & Hartzmark, Samuel M. & Solomon, David H., 2015. "Juicing the dividend yield: Mutual funds and the demand for dividends," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(3), pages 433-451.
    2. Caliskan, Deren & Doukas, John A., 2015. "CEO risk preferences and dividend policy decisions," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 18-42.
    3. Xavier Gabaix, 2014. "A Sparsity-Based Model of Bounded Rationality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(4), pages 1661-1710.
    4. Milkman, Katherine L. & Beshears, John, 2009. "Mental accounting and small windfalls: Evidence from an online grocer," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 384-394, August.
    5. Jeffrey Thompson & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2010. "Recent Trends in the Distribution of Income: Labor, Wealth and More Complete Measures of Well Being," Working Papers wp225, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    6. Olivier Allain, 2011. "The impact of income distribution on consumption: a reassessment," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00712657, HAL.
    7. Whitaker, James B. & Effland, Anne, 2009. "Income Stabilization Through Government Payments: How Is Farm Household Consumption Affected?," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 38(1), April.
    8. Breuer, Wolfgang & Rieger, M. Oliver & Soypak, K. Can, 2014. "The behavioral foundations of corporate dividend policy a cross-country analysis," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 247-265.
    9. Isakov, Dusan & Weisskopf, Jean-Philippe, 2013. "Do not wake sleeping dogs: Pay-out policies in founding family firms," FSES Working Papers 443, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Freiburg/Fribourg Switzerland.
    10. Kaustia, Markku & Rantapuska, Elias, 2012. "Rational and behavioral motives to trade: Evidence from reinvestment of dividends and tender offer proceeds," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 2366-2378.
    11. Lee, King Fuei, 2013. "Demographics and the long-horizon returns of dividend-yield strategies," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 202-218.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dividends; consumption; macroeconomics; capital gains;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • G35 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Payout Policy

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