IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The intertemporal allocation of consumption: theory and evidence

  • Attanasio, Orazio P.

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.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy.

Volume (Year): 42 (1995)
Issue (Month): 1 (June)
Pages: 39-56

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:crcspp:v:42:y:1995:i::p:39-56
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Christopher A. Pissarides, 1978. "Liquidity Considerations in the Theory of Consumption," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 92(2), pages 279-296.
  2. Campbell, John Y, 1987. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1249-73, November.
  3. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Hansen, Gary D & Imrohoroglu, Ayse, 1992. "The Role of Unemployment Insurance in an Economy with Liquidity Constraints and Moral Hazard," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 118-42, February.
  5. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1993. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 4328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
  7. Meghir, C. & Weber, G., 1993. "Intertemporal Non-Separability or Borrowing Restrictions? : A Disaggregate Analysis Using the US Cex Panel," Discussion Paper 1993-52, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  8. Alessie, R.J.M. & Melenberg, B. & Weber, G., 1987. "Consumption, leisure and earnings-related liquidity constraints : A note," Research Memorandum FEW 295, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
  9. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis: Estimation and Testing by Instrumental Variables," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 895-916, October.
  10. Rob Alessie & Michael Devereux & Guglielmo Weber, 1993. "Intertemporal consumption, durables and liquidity constraints: a cohort analysis," IFS Working Papers W93/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  11. Fumio Hayashi, 1985. "The Effect of Liquidity Constraints on Consumption: A Cross-Sectional Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(1), pages 183-206.
  12. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1982. "Generalized Instrumental Variables Estimation of Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1269-86, September.
  13. Davidson, James E H, et al, 1978. "Econometric Modelling of the Aggregate Time-Series Relationship between Consumers' Expenditure and Income in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 88(352), pages 661-92, December.
  14. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
  15. repec:fth:harver:1435 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Attanasio, Orazio P & Browning, Martin, 1995. "Consumption over the Life Cycle and over the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1118-37, December.
  17. Scheinkman, Jose A & Weiss, Laurence, 1986. "Borrowing Constraints and Aggregate Economic Activity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(1), pages 23-45, January.
  18. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-57, April.
  19. Robert E. Hall & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1980. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," NBER Working Papers 0505, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Miles, David, 1992. "Housing markets, consumption and financial liberalisation in the major economies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 1093-1127, June.
  21. Moffitt, Robert, 1993. "Identification and estimation of dynamic models with a time series of repeated cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1-2), pages 99-123, September.
  22. Browning, Martin & Meghir, Costas, 1991. "The Effects of Male and Female Labor Supply on Commodity Demands," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 925-51, July.
  23. Runkle, David E., 1991. "Liquidity constraints and the permanent-income hypothesis : Evidence from panel data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 73-98, February.
  24. Browning, Martin & Deaton, Angus & Irish, Margaret, 1985. "A Profitable Approach to Labor Supply and Commodity Demands over the Life-Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(3), pages 503-43, May.
  25. Stoker, Thomas M, 1993. "Empirical Approaches to the Problem of Aggregation Over Individuals," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1827-74, December.
  26. Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
  27. Thurow, Lester C, 1969. "The Optimum Lifetime Distribution of Consumption Expenditures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(3), pages 324-30, June.
  28. Tullio Jappelli & Marco Pagano, 1994. "Saving, Growth, and Liquidity Constraints," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 83-109.
  29. R. Glenn Hubbard & Kenneth L. Judd, 1986. "Liquidity Constraints, Fiscal Policy, and Consumption," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 17(1), pages 1-60.
  30. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1991. "Why is Italy's Savings Rate So High?," CEPR Discussion Papers 572, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  31. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  32. F. Thomas Juster & Robert P. Shay, 1964. "Consumer Sensitivity to Finance Rates: An Empirical and Analytical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number just64-2, December.
  33. Deaton, Angus, 1991. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(5), pages 1221-48, September.
  34. Orazio P. Attanasio & Guglielmo Weber, 1993. "Consumption Growth, the Interest Rate and Aggregation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 631-649.
  35. Flavin, Marjorie A, 1981. "The Adjustment of Consumption to Changing Expectations about Future Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 974-1009, October.
  36. Lusardi, A., 1992. "Permanent Income, Current Income and Consumption: Evidence form Panel Data," Papers 9253, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  37. Chah, Eun Young & Ramey, Valerie A & Starr, Ross M, 1995. "Liquidity Constraints and Intertemporal Consumer Optimization: Theory and Evidence from Durable Goods," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 272-87, February.
  38. Brugiavini, A. & Weber, G., 1992. "Durables and Nondurables Consumption: Edidence from Italian Household Data," Papers 184, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  39. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  40. Walter Dolde & James Tobin, 1971. "Wealth, Liquidity, and Consumption," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 311, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  41. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1989. "Consumption, Income, and Interest Rates: Reinterpreting the Time Series Evidence," NBER Working Papers 2924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  42. A. Maureen O'Brien & Clifford B. Hawley, 1986. "The Labor Force Participation Behavior of Married Women under Conditions of Constraints on Borrowing," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(2), pages 267-278.
  43. Tullio Jappelli, 1990. "Who is Credit Constrained in the U. S. Economy?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 219-234.
  44. Charles R. Bean, 1986. "The Estimation of "Surprise" Models and the "Surprise" Consumption Function," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(4), pages 497-516.
  45. N. Gregory Mankiw & Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "Intertemporal Substitution in Macroeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(1), pages 225-251.
  46. Heckman, James J. & MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1988. "Empirical tests of labor-market equilibrium: An evaluation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 231-258, January.
  47. Fumio Hayashi, 1985. "Tests for Liquidity Constraints: A Critical Survey," NBER Working Papers 1720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  48. Pencavel, John, 1987. "Labor supply of men: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 3-102 Elsevier.
  49. repec:adr:anecst:y:1993:i:29:p:08 is not listed on IDEAS
  50. Keane, Michael P & Runkle, David E, 1992. "On the Estimation of Panel-Data Models with Serial Correlation When Instruments Are Not Strictly Exogenous," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 10(1), pages 1-9, January.
  51. Flemming, J S, 1973. "The Consumption Function when Capital Markets are Imperfect: The Permanent Income Hypothesis Reconsidered," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(2), pages 160-72, July.
  52. Muellbauer, John, 1986. "Habits, Rationality and Myopia in the Life-Cycle Consumption Function," CEPR Discussion Papers 112, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  53. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:crcspp:v:42:y:1995:i::p:39-56. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.