The Determinants of Consumption Growth in Austria – Results of a Representative Survey
In the period from 2001 to 2004, Austrian households' consumption expenditure increased by 0.9% per annum in real terms, thus growing 1.6 percentage points more slowly on average than in the period from 1989 to 2000. Subdued consumption growth is attributable not only to economic stagnation, but also to a higher saving rate than is usual at the current stage of the economic cycle. To explain this unusual consumer behavior, numerous hypotheses have been formulated that go beyond the conventional determinants of consumption. In this study, the hypotheses were tested against the results of a representative survey carried out among Austrian households in August 2004. 36% of respondents said they had cut consumption expenditures in the previous 12 months, while 52% claimed to have kept consumption stable and roughly 12% of those surveyed said they had increased consumption expenditures. Among the motives for lower consumption, respondents most frequently cited perceived price increases, the income situation, a pessimistic income outlook and a trend toward smart shopping, while they considered anticipated cuts in pensions or other public benefits, waiting for prices to drop (withholding consumption) and too cautious economic reforms less relevant and geopolitical uncertainties, mounting public debt and liquidity constraints irrelevant. JEL classification: E21
Volume (Year): (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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