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Income Inequality and Saving

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  • Francisco Alvarez‐Cuadrado
  • Mayssun El‐Attar Vilalta

Abstract

Over the last three decades, the average income for the bottom half of the US distribution increased by 8% while their average saving rate decreased by 8 percentage points. Over the same period, the US experienced a substantial increase in inequality and a continuous decrease in the aggregate saving rate. We propose an explanation based on interpersonal comparisons consistent with these trends. When households care about their consumption relative to others, individual saving rates decrease with reference income while aggregate saving decreases with income inequality. We provide evidence from the PSID and a panel of OECD countries consistent with these predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Francisco Alvarez‐Cuadrado & Mayssun El‐Attar Vilalta, 2018. "Income Inequality and Saving," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 80(6), pages 1029-1061, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:80:y:2018:i:6:p:1029-1061
    DOI: 10.1111/obes.12236
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    Cited by:

    1. Haagsma, Rein, 2018. "Income inequality and saving in a class society: The role of ordinal status," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel), vol. 12, pages 1-31.
    2. Kai D. Schmid & Moritz Drechsel-Grau, 2013. "Habits and Envy: What Drives the Consumption Behavior of U.S. Households? Evidence from PSID, 1999-2009," IMK Working Paper 123-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    3. Haagsma, Rein, 2018. "Income inequality and saving in a class society: The role of ordinal status," Economics Discussion Papers 2018-12, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    4. Klein, Mathias & Krause, Christopher, 2015. "Technology-Labor and Fiscal Spending Crowding-in Puzzles: The Role of Interpersonal Comparison," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113075, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Moritz Drechsel-Grau & Kai Daniel Schmid, 2013. "Consumption-Savings Decisions under Upward Looking Comparisons: Evidence from Germany, 2002-2011," IMK Working Paper 118-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    6. Wang, Haining & Cheng, Zhiming, 2021. "Mama loves you: The gender wage gap and expenditure on children's education in China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 1015-1034.
    7. Irakli Japaridze, 2019. "Envy, inequality and fertility," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 923-945, September.
    8. repec:zbw:rwirep:0509 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Mathias Klein & Christopher Krause, 2014. "Income Redistribution, Consumer Credit,and Keeping up with the Riches," Ruhr Economic Papers 0509, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    10. Drechsel-Grau, Moritz & Schmid, Kai D., 2014. "Consumption–savings decisions under upward-looking comparisons," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 254-268.
    11. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & Japaridze, Irakli, 2017. "Trickle-down consumption, financial deregulation, inequality, and indebtedness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 1-26.
    12. Bofinger, Peter & Scheuermeyer, Philipp, 2016. "Income Distribution and Aggregate Saving: A Non-Monotonic Relationship," CEPR Discussion Papers 11435, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Giusto, Andrea & İşcan, Talan B., 2019. "Market Power And The Aggregate Saving Rate," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(6), pages 2269-2297, September.
    14. Philipp Poppitz, 2016. "Does self-perceptions and income inequality match?," IMK Working Paper 173-2016, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    15. Yonatan Berman & Yoash Shapira & Eshel Ben-Jacob, 2015. "Modeling the Origin and Possible Control of the Wealth Inequality Surge," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 10(6), pages 1-21, June.
    16. Mathias Klein & Christopher Krause, 2020. "Income Redistribution, Consumer Credit, and Keeping Up with the Riches," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 52(8), pages 1937-1971, December.
    17. Srivisal, Narapong & Sanoran, Kanyarat Lek & Bukkavesa, Kanix, 2021. "National culture and saving: How collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, and future orientation play roles," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 50(C).
    18. Scheuermeyer, Philipp & Bofinger, Peter, 2016. "Income Distribution and Household Saving: A Non-Monotonic Relationship," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145901, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    19. Irakli Japaridze & Nagham Sayour, 2021. "Dying from envy: The role of inequality," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(6), pages 1374-1392, June.

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    More about this item

    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
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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