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The nature of precautionary wealth

  • Carroll, Christopher D.
  • Samwick, Andrew A.

This paper uses the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to provide some of the first direct evidence that wealth is systematically higher for consumers with greater income uncertainty. However, the apparent pattern of precautionary saving is not consistent with a standard parameterization of the life cycle model in which consumers are patient enough to begin saving for retirement early in life: wealth is estimated to be less sensitive to uncertainty in permanent income than implied by that model. Instead, our results suggest that over most of their working lifetime, consumers behave in accordance with the 'buffer-stock' models of saving described in Carroll (1992) or Deaton (1991), in which consumers hold wealth principally to insulate consumption against near term fluctuations in income.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Monetary Economics.

Volume (Year): 40 (1997)
Issue (Month): 1 (September)
Pages: 41-71

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Handle: RePEc:eee:moneco:v:40:y:1997:i:1:p:41-71
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505566

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  1. Karen E. Dynan, 1993. "How prudent are consumers?," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 135, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. 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.
  3. Nelson, C. & Startz, R., 1988. "The Distribution Of The Instrumental Variables Estimator And Its T-Ratio When The Instrument Is A Poor One," Working Papers 88-07, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  4. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1992. "Earnings uncertainty and precautionary saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 307-337, November.
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  8. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 3-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  9. John Bound & David A. Jaeger & Regina Baker, 1993. "The Cure Can Be Worse than the Disease: A Cautionary Tale Regarding Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Alastair R. Hall & Glenn D. Rudebusch & David W. Wilcox, 1994. "Judging instrument relevance in instrumental variables estimation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 94-3, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  12. Christopher D. Carroll, 1991. "Buffer stock saving and the permanent income hypothesis," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 114, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. 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.
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  15. Kimball, Miles S & Mankiw, N Gregory, 1989. "Precautionary Saving and the Timing of Taxes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 863-79, August.
  16. Deaton, Angus, 1991. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(5), pages 1221-48, September.
  17. Caballero, Ricardo J., 1990. "Consumption puzzles and precautionary savings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 113-136, January.
  18. Christopher D. Carroll & Andrew A. Samwick, 1995. "The Nature of Precautionary Wealth," NBER Working Papers 5193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Stephen P. Zeldes, 1989. "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(2), pages 275-298.
  20. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-54, July.
  21. Milton Friedman, 1957. "Introduction to "A Theory of the Consumption Function"," NBER Chapters, in: A Theory of the Consumption Function, pages 1-6 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. R. Glenn Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 1993. "The Importance of Precautionary Motives in Explaining Individual and Aggregate Saving," NBER Working Papers 4516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
  24. Miles S. Kimball, 1990. "Precautionary Saving and the Marginal Propensity to Consume," NBER Working Papers 3403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "Earnings Uncertainty and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 859-71, September.
  26. Francesca Eugeni, 1993. "Consumer debt and home equity borrowing," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Mar, pages 2-13.
  27. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, Jan-Jun.
  28. Christopher D. Carroll, 1997. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 1-55.
  29. Christopher D. Carroll & Andrew A. Samwick, 1998. "How Important Is Precautionary Saving?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(3), pages 410-419, August.
  30. Richard T. Curtin & Thomas Juster & James N. Morgan, 1989. "Survey Estimates of Wealth: An Assessment of Quality," NBER Chapters, in: The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth, pages 473-552 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1989. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 411-45, March.
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  33. Christopher D. Carroll, 1994. "How does Future Income Affect Current Consumption?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 111-147.
  34. Kimball, Miles S, 1990. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 53-73, January.
  35. Dynan, Karen E, 1993. "How Prudent Are Consumers?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 1104-13, December.
  36. Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "Tax Policy, the Rate of Return, and Savings," NBER Working Papers 0995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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