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Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance

  • Hubbard, R Glenn
  • Skinner, Jonathan
  • Zeldes, Stephen P

This paper argues that a life cycle model can replicate observed patterns in household wealth accumulation after counting explicitly for precautionary saving and asset-based, means-tested social insurance. The authors demonstrate that social insurance programs with means tests based on assets discourage saving by households with low expected lifetime income. In addition, they evaluate the model using a dynamic programming model. Assuming common preference parameters across lifetime income groups, the authors are able to replicate the empirical pattern that low-income households are more likely than high-income households to hold virtually no wealth. Copyright 1995 by University of Chicago Press.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 103 (1995)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 360-99

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:103:y:1995:i:2:p:360-99
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  1. Cantor, Richard, 1985. "The consumption function and the precautionary demand for savings," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 207-210.
  2. 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.
  3. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  4. Feenberg, Daniel & Skinner, Jonathan, 1994. "The Risk and Duration of Catastrophic Health Care Expenditures," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(4), pages 633-47, November.
  5. André MASSON, 1988. "Permanent Income, Age and the Distribution of Wealth," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 9, pages 227-256.
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  8. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(2), pages 275-98, May.
  9. Bernheim, B.D. & Scholz, J.K., 1992. "Private Saving and Public Policy," Working papers 9226, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  10. O'Connell, Stephen A. & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1993. "Dynamic efficiency in the gifts economy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 363-379, June.
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  13. Elizabeth T. Powers, 1995. "Does means-testing welfare discourage saving? Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Women," Working Paper 9519, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  14. Lawrance, Emily C, 1991. "Poverty and the Rate of Time Preference: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 54-77, February.
  15. Blundell, Richard & Browning, Martin & Meghir, Costas, 1994. "Consumer Demand and the Life-Cycle Allocation of Household Expenditures," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 57-80, January.
  16. 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.
  17. Abel, Andrew B, 1986. "Capital Accumulation and Uncertain Lifetimes with Adverse Selection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(5), pages 1079-97, September.
  18. Feldstein, Martin, 1988. "The Effects of Fiscal Policies when Incomes Are Uncertain: A Contradiction to Ricardian Equivalence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 14-23, March.
  19. Robert E. Lipsey & Helen Stone Tice, 1989. "The Measurement of Saving, Investment, and Wealth," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lips89-1, December.
  20. Robert Moffitt & Michael Rothschild, 1987. "Variable Earnings and Nonlinear Taxation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(3), pages 405-421.
  21. Christopher D. Carroll & Andrew A. Samwick, 1992. "The nature and magnitude of precautionary wealth," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 124, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  22. Feldstein, Martin, 1995. "College Scholarship Rules and Private Saving," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 552-66, June.
  23. Deaton, A., 1989. "Saving And Liquidity Constraints," Papers 153, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  24. Miles S. Kimball, 1989. "Precautionary Saving in the Small and in the Large," NBER Working Papers 2848, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Avner Bar-Ilan, 1995. "On the Proportionality and Homogeneity of Consumption and Income," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 28(4b), pages 1153-60, November.
  26. Atkeson, A. & Ogaki, M., 1991. "Wealth-Varying Intertemporal Elasticities of Substitution Evidence from Panel and Aggregate Data," RCER Working Papers 303, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  27. Jonathan S. Skinner, 1987. "Risky Income, Life Cycle Consumption, and Precautionary Savings," NBER Working Papers 2336, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Moffitt, Robert, 1989. "Estimating the Value of an In-Kind Transfer: The Case of Food Stamps," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 385-409, March.
  29. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1987. "The Relation between Return and Income," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 77-95, February.
  30. 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.
  31. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Time Preference and Health: An Exploratory Study," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 93-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  32. Karen E. Dynan, 1993. "The rate of time preference and shocks to wealth: evidence from panel data," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 134, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  33. Caballero, Ricardo J, 1991. "Earnings Uncertainty and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 859-71, September.
  34. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  35. 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.
  36. Davies, James B, 1981. "Uncertain Lifetime, Consumption, and Dissaving in Retirement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(3), pages 561-77, June.
  37. Miles S. Kimball, 1990. "Precautionary Saving and the Marginal Propensity to Consume," NBER Working Papers 3403, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  38. Skinner, Jonathan, 1985. "Variable Lifespan and the Intertemporal Elasticity of Consumption," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(4), pages 616-23, November.
  39. Hubbard, R Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1994. "Expanding the Life-Cycle Model: Precautionary Saving and Public Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 174-79, May.
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