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The decline in the U.S. personal saving rate: is it real and is it a puzzle?

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  • Massimo Guidolin
  • Elizabeth A. La Jeunesse

Abstract

Since the mid-1990s, the national income and product accounts personal saving rate for the United States has been trending down, dropping into negative territory for three months during the past two years. This paper examines measurement problems surrounding two of the standard definitions of the personal saving rate. The authors conclude that, despite these measurement problems, the recent decline of the U.S. personal saving rate to low levels seems to be a real economic phenomenon and may be a cause for concern for several reasons. After examining several possible explanations for the trend advanced in the recent literature, the authors conclude that none of them provides a compelling explanation for the steep decline and negative levels of the U.S. personal saving rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Massimo Guidolin & Elizabeth A. La Jeunesse, 2007. "The decline in the U.S. personal saving rate: is it real and is it a puzzle?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 491-514.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2007:i:nov:p:491-514:n:v.89no.6
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    Cited by:

    1. Doepke, M. & Tertilt, M., 2016. "Families in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    2. Bunting, David, 2009. "The saving decline: Macro-facts, micro-behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 282-295, May.
    3. Riccardo Fiorentini, 2011. "Global Imbalances, the International Crisis and the Role of the Dollar," Working Papers 18/2011, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    4. Bela Szemely, 2013. "Explaining the Decline of the U.S. Saving Rate: the Joint Role of Health Expenditure and Employer Contributions," 2013 Meeting Papers 93, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Jon D. Wisman & Barton Baker, 2009. "Increasing Inequality, Status Insecurity, Ideology, and the Financial Crisis of 2008," Working Papers 2009-14 JEL classificatio, American University, Department of Economics.
    6. Anja Koebrich Leon, 2013. "Religion and Economic Outcomes – Household Savings Behavior in the USA," Working Paper Series in Economics 268, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
    7. Aronsson, Thomas & Sjögren, Tomas, 2014. "Tax policy and present-biased preferences: Paternalism under international capital mobility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 298-316.
    8. Tam, Leona & Dholakia, Utpal M., 2011. "Delay and duration effects of time frames on personal savings estimates and behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 142-152, March.
    9. Shoshana Amyra Grossbard & Alfredo Marvão Pereira, 2013. "Savings and Economies of Marriage: Intra-Marriage Financial Distributions as Determinants of Savings," Working Papers 95, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    10. Shoshana Amyra Grossbard & Alfredo Marvao Pereira, 2010. "Will Women Save more than Men? A Theoretical Model of Savings and Marriage," CESifo Working Paper Series 3146, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Till Treeck, 2014. "Did Inequality Cause The U.S. Financial Crisis?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(3), pages 421-448, July.
    12. Fernando Rugitsky, 2015. "Financialization, Housing Bubble, and the Great Recession: an interpretation based on a circuit of capital model," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2015_24, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    13. Till van Treeck, 2008. "The political economy debate on ‘financialisation’ – a macroeconomic perspective," IMK Working Paper 01-2008, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    14. Michler Albrecht F. & Thieme H. Jörg, 2009. "Finanzmarktkrise: Marktversagen oder Staatsversagen? / Financial crisis: Failure of markets or politics?," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 60(1), pages 185-222, January.
    15. Jon D. Wisman, 2013. "Wage stagnation, rising inequality and the financial crisis of 2008," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(4), pages 921-945.
    16. Barry Z. Cynamon & Steven M. Fazzari, 2013. "Inequality and Household Finance during the Consumer Age," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_752, Levy Economics Institute.
    17. Stephane Guibaud & Keyu Jin & Nicolas Coeurdacier, 2011. "Credit Constraints and Growth in a Global Economy," 2011 Meeting Papers 1040, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    18. Jon D. Wisman & Barton Baker, 2010. "Rising Inequality and the Financial Crises of 1929 and 2008," Working Papers 2010-10 JEL classificatio, American University, Department of Economics.
    19. Alessandro Vercelli, 2014. "Financial and nuclear meltdowns: the fragility of chain-reaction critical processes," Chapters,in: The Great Recession and the Contradictions of Contemporary Capitalism, chapter 12, pages 208-220 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    20. Antonio, Paradiso, 2010. "Long-term interest rates, asset prices, and personal saving ratio: Evidence from the 1990s," MPRA Paper 26754, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Till van Treeck, 2012. "Did inequality cause the U.S. financial crisis?," IMK Working Paper 91-2012, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    22. Paradiso, Antonio & Rao, B. Bhaskara, 2011. "What Caused the Decline in the US Saving Ratio?," MPRA Paper 28023, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Stein, Jerome L., 2010. "A tale of two debt crises: a stochastic optimal control analysis," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 4, pages 1-24.
    24. Till van Treeck, 2008. "Asymmetric income and wealth effects in a non-linear error correction model of US consumer spending," IMK Working Paper 06-2008, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    25. Riccardo Bellofiore & Giovanna Vertova (ed.), 2014. "The Great Recession and the Contradictions of Contemporary Capitalism," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14637.

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    Keywords

    Consumer behavior ; Saving and investment;

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