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The intertemporal allocation of consumption: theory and evidence

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  • Attanasio, Orazio P.

Abstract

Liquidity constraints and, more generally, imperfections in credit markets, can be extremely important for the intertemporal allocation of consumption and have received a substantial amount of attention in the theoretical and empirical literature on consumption. In the first part of the paper I review the reasons why liquidity constraints are important. Unfortunately, for several reasons, it is not easy to test for the presence of liquidity constraints. Aggregation issues preclude the use of aggregate time series data for such a purpose. Tests based on micro data, however, are complicated by some serious identification problems. If a simple equilibrium model does not fit some data set, one can change the assumptions about the opportunity set available to the economic agents or the specification of their preferences. For instance, empirical evidence that detects excess sensitivity of consumption to income could be explained by liquidity constraints or by non separability between consumption and leisure. However, the available evidence shows that it is possible to find flexible specifications of preferences that fit consumption movements at business cycle frequencies. I also present some simulation evidence that shows that for many plausible parameter configurations, liquidity constraints are likely to be relevant only for a few economic agents. In the last part of the paper I present some new evidence on the relevance of liquidity constraints based on debt holding data. The data indicate that the demand for debt of individuals more likely to be liquidity constrained is less elastic to changes in the interest rate.
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  • Attanasio, Orazio P., 1995. "The intertemporal allocation of consumption: theory and evidence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 39-56, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:crcspp:v:42:y:1995:i::p:39-56
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    1. Garcia, Rene & Lusardi, Annamaria & Ng, Serena, 1997. "Excess Sensitivity and Asymmetries in Consumption: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(2), pages 154-176, May.
    2. Heaton, John & Lucas, Deborah, 1995. "The importance of investor heterogeneity and financial market imperfections for the behavior of asset prices," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-32, June.
    3. Havranek, Tomas & Horvath, Roman & Irsova, Zuzana & Rusnak, Marek, 2015. "Cross-country heterogeneity in intertemporal substitution," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 100-118.
    4. John Y. Campbell & João F. Cocco & Francisco J. Gomes & Pascal J. Maenhout, 2001. "Investing Retirement Wealth: A Life-Cycle Model," NBER Chapters,in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 439-482 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Sangeeta Pratap & Silvio Rendon, 2003. "Firm Investment in Imperfect Capital Markets: A Structural Estimation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(3), pages 513-545, July.
    6. Barthélemy, Jean & Clerc, Laurent & Marx, Magali, 2011. "A two-pillar DSGE monetary policy model for the euro area," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 1303-1316, May.
    7. Bernheim, B. Douglas, 2002. "Taxation and saving," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 18, pages 1173-1249 Elsevier.
    8. Kilponen, Juha, 2009. "Euler consumption equation with non-separable preferences over consumption and leisure and collateral constraints," Research Discussion Papers 9/2009, Bank of Finland.
    9. Gilchrist, Simon & Himmelberg, Charles P., 1995. "Evidence on the role of cash flow for investment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 541-572, December.
    10. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1363-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Boldrin, Michael & Horvath, Michael, 1995. "Labor Contracts and Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 972-1004, October.
    12. Claudia Olivetti, 2006. "Changes in Women's Hours of Market Work: The Role of Returns to Experience," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 557-587, October.
    13. Jääskelä, Jarkko, 1997. "Incomplete insurance market and its policy implication within European Monetary Union," Research Discussion Papers 8/1997, Bank of Finland.
    14. Giuseppe Bertola & Stefan Hochguertel & Winfried Koeniger, 2005. "Dealer Pricing Of Consumer Credit ," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 46(4), pages 1103-1142, November.
    15. de Ruiter, Marcel & Smant, David J. C., 1999. "The Household Balance Sheet and Durable Consumer Expenditures: An Empirical Investigation for The Netherlands, 1972-93," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 243-274, March.
    16. Päivi Kankaanranta, 2006. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle: A Selected Literature Review," Discussion Papers 7, Aboa Centre for Economics.

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    • D30 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - General
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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