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On the Relationships Between Real Consumption, Income, and Wealth


  • Palumbo, Michael

    (Federal Reserve Board)

  • Rudd, Jeremy

    (Federal Reserve Board)

  • Whelan, Karl

    (Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland)


The existence of durable goods implies that the welfare flow from consumption cannot be directly associated with total consumption expenditures. As a result, tests of standard theories of consumption (such as the Permanent Income Hypothesis, or PIH) typically focus on nondurable goods and services. Specifically, these studies generally relate real consumption of nondurable goods and services to measures of real income and wealth, where the latter are deflated by a price index for total consumption expenditures. This paper demonstrates that this procedure is only valid under the assumption that real consumption of nondurables and services is a constant multiple of aggregate real consumption outlays---an assumption that represents a very poor description of U.S. data. The paper develops an alternative approach that is based on the observation that the ratio of these series has historically been stable in nominal terms, and uses this approach to examine two basic predictions of the PIH. We obtain significantly different results relative to the traditional approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Palumbo, Michael & Rudd, Jeremy & Whelan, Karl, 2002. "On the Relationships Between Real Consumption, Income, and Wealth," Research Technical Papers 4/RT/02, Central Bank of Ireland.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbi:wpaper:4/rt/02

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Campbell, John Y, 1987. "Does Saving Anticipate Declining Labor Income? An Alternative Test of the Permanent Income Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(6), pages 1249-1273, November.
    2. Gali, Jordi, 1990. "Finite horizons, life-cycle savings, and time-series evidence on consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 433-452, December.
    3. 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 971-987, December.
    4. John Campbell & Angus Deaton, 1989. "Why is Consumption So Smooth?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(3), pages 357-373.
    5. Whelan, Karl, 2003. " A Two-Sector Approach to Modeling U.S. NIPA Data," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(4), pages 627-656, August.
    6. Davidson, James E H, et al, 1978. "Econometric Modelling of the Aggregate Time-Series Relationship between Consumers' Expenditure and Income in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 88(352), pages 661-692, December.
    7. Hansen, Lars Peter & Sargent, Thomas J., 1980. "Formulating and estimating dynamic linear rational expectations models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 7-46, May.
    8. Alan S. Blinder & Angus Deaton, 1985. "The Time Series Consumption Function Revisited," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 16(2), pages 465-521.
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