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Why Is Consumption More Log Normal than Income? Gibrat's Law Revisited

  • Erich Battistin
  • Richard Blundell
  • Arthur Lewbel

Significant departures from log normality are observed in income data, in violation of Gibrat's law. We show empirically that the distribution of consumption expenditures across households is, within cohorts, closer to log normal than the distribution of income. We explain this empirical result by showing that the logic of Gibrat's law applies not to total income, but to permanent income and to marginal utility. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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

Volume (Year): 117 (2009)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 1140-1154

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:117:y:2009:i:6:p:1140-1154
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

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  1. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-67, June.
  2. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2001. "Income variance dynamics and heterogenity," IFS Working Papers W01/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf'S Law For Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767, August.
  4. Erich Battistin, 2002. "Errors in Survey Reports of Consumption Expenditures," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 C4-2, International Conferences on Panel Data.
  5. 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.
  6. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. & White, Halbert, 1988. "Some Invariance Principles and Central Limit Theorems for Dependent Heterogeneous Processes," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(02), pages 210-230, August.
  7. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1995. "Income, expenditure and the living standards of UK households," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 40-54, August.
  8. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality And Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640, May.
  9. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-87, December.
  10. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2004. "Consumption inequality and partial insurance," IFS Working Papers W04/28, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  11. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2004. "Imputing consumption in the PSID using food demand estimates from the CEX," IFS Working Papers W04/27, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  12. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2003. "Measuring the Well-Being of the Poor Using Income and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 9760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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