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Why Do Some Households Save So Little? A Rational Explanation

Author

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  • Siu Fai Leung

    (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

Abstract

This paper offers an explanation for the puzzle of low wealth holdings among a significant fraction of the elderly. Instead of invoking irrational, non-rational, or non-optimal behavior to resolve the puzzle, it is shown that widespread low wealth holdings are consistent with a rational life-cycle model of saving with uncertain lifetime and borrowing constraint. When there is uncertainty about the length of life, it is optimal for some individuals to save little and exhaust their wealth early. The characteristics of these individuals are derived. The simulation results support that the model can account for low wealth holdings as well as early terminal wealth depletion. The analysis also rejects the common perception that uncertain lifetime reduces dissaving. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Siu Fai Leung, 2000. "Why Do Some Households Save So Little? A Rational Explanation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(4), pages 771-800, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:v:3:y:2000:i:4:p:771-800
    DOI: 10.1006/redy.1999.0090
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Leung, Siu Fai, 2007. "The existence, uniqueness, and optimality of the terminal wealth depletion time in life-cycle models of saving under uncertain lifetime and borrowing constraint," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 470-493, May.
    2. Grier, Kevin & Sutter, Daniel, 2007. "External influences on economic reform: Reform as a regional public good," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 660-673, September.
    3. Leung, Siu Fai, 2001. "The life-cycle model of saving with uncertain lifetime and borrowing constraint;: characterization and sensitivity analysis," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 179-201, September.
    4. Alvaro Forteza & Graciela Sanromán, 2011. "Estimación de un modelo estructural para las decisiones de retiro en Uruguay," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 2411, Department of Economics - dECON.
    5. Sánchez Martín, Alfonso R., 2010. "Endogenous retirement and public pension system reform in Spain," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 336-349, January.
    6. Sergi Jiménez-Martín & Alfonso R Sánchez-Martín, 2006. "An evaluation of the life-cycle effects of minimum pensions on retirement behaviour: Extended Version," Working Papers 06.23, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.
    7. Sergi Jiménez-Martín & Alfonso R. Sánchez Martín, 2007. "An evaluation of the life cycle effects of minimum pensions on retirement behavior," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(5), pages 923-950.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    life-cycke; uncertain lifetime; saving; wealth; dissaving; elderly; retirement; rational behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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