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Policy Uncertainty and Precautionary Savings

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  • Francesco Giavazzi
  • Michael F. McMahon

Abstract

In 1997 Chancellor Kohl proposed a major pension reform: he pushed the law through Parliament explaining that the German PAYG system had become unsustainable. One limitation of the new law - one that is crucial for our identification strategy - is that it left the generous pension entitlements of civil servants intact. The year after, in 1998, Kohl lost the elections and was replaced by Gerhard Shroeder. One of the first decisions of the new Chancellor was to revoke of the 1997 pension reform. We use the quasi-experiment of the adoption and subsequent revocation of the pension reform to study how households reacted to the increase in uncertainty about the future path of income that such an event produced. Our estimates are obtained from a diff-in-diff estimator: this helps us overcome the identification problem that often affects measures of precautionary saving. Departing from the majority of studies on precautionary saving we also analyze households' response in terms of labor market choices: we find evidence of a labor supply response by those workers who can use the margin offered by part-time employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Giavazzi & Michael F. McMahon, 2008. "Policy Uncertainty and Precautionary Savings," CEP Discussion Papers dp0863, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0863
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Borsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 2001. "The German Savings Puzzle," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 15-38, March.
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    10. Giavazzi, Francesco & McMahon, Michael, 2008. "Policy Uncertainty and Precautionary Savings," CEPR Discussion Papers 6766, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giavazzi, Francesco & McMahon, Michael, 2008. "Policy Uncertainty and Precautionary Savings," CEPR Discussion Papers 6766, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Francesco Giavazzi & Michael McMahon, 2012. "The Household Effects of Government Spending," NBER Chapters,in: Fiscal Policy after the Financial Crisis, pages 103-141 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Jesus Ferreiro & Felipe Serrano, 2012. "Expectations, uncertainty and institutions. An application to the analysis of social security reforms," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(2), pages 253-266, October.
    4. van Treeck, Till. & Sturn, Simon., 2012. "Income inequality as a cause of the Great Recession? : A survey of current debates," ILO Working Papers 994709343402676, International Labour Organization.
    5. Francesco Giavazzi & Michael McMahon, 2012. "The Households Effects of Government Consumption," NBER Working Papers 17837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Pension Reform; Precautionary saving; uncertainty; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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