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Understanding Why High Income Households Save More Than Low Income Households

  • Mark Huggett

    (Economics Department, University of Illinois)

  • Gustavo Ventura

    (Department of Economics, University of Illinois)

This paper investigates why high income households save on average a higher fraction of income than do low income households in US cross-section data. The three explanations considered are (1) age differences across households, (2) temporary earnings shocks and (3) the structure of social security payments. We use a calibrated life-cycle model to evaluate the quantitative importance of these explanations. We find that age and the structure of social security payments are quantitatively important in replicating the pattern of average savings rates and income found in US cross-section data. Surprisingly, temporary shocks turn out to be of secondary importance.

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Paper provided by Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM in its series Working Papers with number 9701.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Jan 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cie:wpaper:9701
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  1. Lawrance, Emily C, 1991. "Poverty and the Rate of Time Preference: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 54-77, February.
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  8. Diamond, P. A. & Hausman, J. A., 1984. "Individual retirement and savings behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(1-2), pages 81-114.
  9. repec:att:wimass:9430 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Intergenerational Transfers and the Accumulation of Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 145-160, Fall.
  11. John Rust & Christopher Phelan, 1997. "How Social Security and Medicare Affect Retirement Behavior in a World of Incomplete Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 781-832, July.
  12. Hurd, Michael D, 1990. "Research on the Elderly: Economic Status, Retirement, and Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 28(2), pages 565-637, June.
  13. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Staff Report 102, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. Carroll, Christopher D. & Samwick, Andrew A., 1997. "The nature of precautionary wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 41-71, September.
  15. Lillard, Lee A, 1977. "Inequality: Earnings vs. Human Wealth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 42-53, March.
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  17. Christopher D. Carroll, 1992. "The Buffer-Stock Theory of Saving: Some Macroeconomic Evidence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(2), pages 61-156.
  18. Avery, Robert B & Kennickell, Arthur B, 1991. "Household Saving in the U.S," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(4), pages 409-32, December.
  19. Hubbard, R Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1995. "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 360-99, April.
  20. Sabelhaus, John, 1993. "What is the Distributional Burden of Taxing Consumption?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 46(3), pages 331-44, September.
  21. Janet A. Fisher, 1952. "Income, Spending, and Saving Patterns of Consumer Units in Different Age Groups," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in Income and Wealth, Volume 15, pages 75-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Joines, Douglas H, 1995. "A Life Cycle Analysis of Social Security," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 83-114, June.
  23. Hurd, Michael D, 1989. "Mortality Risk and Bequests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(4), pages 779-813, July.
  24. Orazio Attanasio, 1994. "Personal Saving in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: International Comparisons of Household Saving, pages 57-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
  26. José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 1996. "Life-Cycle Economies and Aggregate Fluctuations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(3), pages 465-489.
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