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The Household Effects of Government Spending

In: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis

  • Francesco Giavazzi
  • Michael McMahon

This paper provides new evidence on the effects of fiscal policy by studying, using household-level data, how households respond to shifts in government spending. Our identification strategy allows us to control for time-specific aggregate effects, such as the stance of monetary policy or the U.S.-wide business cycle. However, it potentially prevents us from estimating the wealth effects associated with a shift in spending. We find significant heterogeneity in households' response to a spending shock; the effects appear vary over time depending, among other factors, on the state of business cycle and, at a lower frequency, on the composition of employment (such as the share of workers in part-time jobs). Shifts in spending could also have important distributional effects that are lost when estimating an aggregate multiplier. Heads of households working relatively few (weekly) hours, for instance, suffer from a spending shock of the type we analyzed: their consumption falls, their hours increase and their real wages fall.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Alberto Alesina & Francesco Giavazzi, 2013. "Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ales11-1, May.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12636.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12636
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Christopher J. Nekarda & Valerie A. Ramey, 2010. "Industry Evidence on the Effects of Government Spending," NBER Working Papers 15754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Lilia Maliar & Serguei Maliar, 2003. "The Representative Consumer in the Neoclassical Growth Model with Idiosyncratic Shocks," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(2), pages 368-380, April.
    3. Francesco Giavazzi & Michael McMahon, 2009. "Policy Uncertainty and Precautionary Savings," Working Papers 355, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    4. Alan J. Auerbach & Yuriy Gorodnichenko, 2011. "Fiscal Multipliers in Recession and Expansion," NBER Working Papers 17447, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Valerie A. Ramey, 2009. "Identifying Government Spending Shocks: It's All in the Timing," NBER Working Papers 15464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Marco Del Negro, 1999. "Asymmetric shocks among U.S. states," Working Papers 9903, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
    7. Eric M. Leeper & Nora Traum & Todd B. Walker, 2011. "Clearing Up the Fiscal Multiplier Morass," NBER Working Papers 17444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2004. "Consumption inequality and partial insurance," IFS Working Papers W04/28, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    9. Constantinides, George M, 1982. "Intertemporal Asset Pricing with Heterogeneous Consumers and without Demand Aggregation," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 253-67, April.
    10. Joseph Cullen & Price V. Fishback, 2006. "Did Big Government's Largesse Help the Locals? The Implications of WWII Spending for Local Economic Activity, 1939-1958," NBER Working Papers 12801, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Valerio Ercolani, 2010. "The Precautionary Effect of Government Expenditures on Private Consumption," 2010 Meeting Papers 826, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. 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).
    13. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2011. "Fiscal Stimulus in a Monetary Union: Evidence from U.S. Regions," NBER Working Papers 17391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Fisher, Jonas D. M., 2004. "Fiscal shocks and their consequences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 89-117, March.
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