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Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption

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  • Attanasio, Orazio
  • Davis, Steven J

Abstract

The authors analyze how relative wage movements among birth cohorts and education groups affected the distribution of household consumption and economic welfare. Their empirical work draws on the best available cross-sectional data sets to construct synthetic panel data on U.S. consumption, labor supply, and wages during the 1980s. The authors find that low-frequency movements in the cohort-education structure of pretax hourly wages among men drove large changes in the distribution of household consumption. The results constitute a spectacular failure of between-group consumption insurance, a failure not explained by existing theories of informationally constrained optimal consumption behavior. Copyright 1996 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Attanasio, Orazio & Davis, Steven J, 1996. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1227-1262, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:104:y:1996:i:6:p:1227-62
    DOI: 10.1086/262058
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis

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