Did Japan's shopping coupon program increase spending?
In March 1999, 31Â million "shopping coupons" worth 20,000Â yen each were distributed to Japanese families with children and to the elderly. The coupons expired after six months and could only be used within the recipient's local community. We use variation in the number of children across families and in the number of recipients across prefectures to measure the effect of the coupons on spending. We find that coupons had a positive effect on spending on semi-durables, but no effect on spending on nondurables or services. The marginal propensity to consume on semi-durables was 0.1-0.2 when the coupons were distributed in March. The results using regional variation provide stronger evidence that spending did not fall after the coupons had been redeemed.
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