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Consumption and risk sharing over the life cycle

A striking feature of U.S. data on income and consumption is that inequality increases with age. Using both panel data and an equilibrium life cycle model, we argue that this is informative for understanding the importance and the characteristics of idiosyncratic labor market risk. We find that uncertainty distributed throughout the working years accounts for 40 percent of lifetime uncertainty, with the remainder being realized prior to entering the labor market. We estimate that shocks received over the life cycle cointain a highly persistent component, with an autocorrelation coefficient between 0.98 and unity. The joint behavior of earnings and consumption inequality, interpreted using our model, adds to the body of evidence suggesting that labor market risk are imperfectly pooled and that a precautionary motive is an important aspect of U.S. savings behavior. The restrictions imposed by general equilibrium theory play an important role in arriving at each of these conclusions.

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Paper provided by Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business in its series GSIA Working Papers with number 228.

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Date of creation: Nov 1997
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Handle: RePEc:cmu:gsiawp:228
Contact details of provider: Postal: Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
Web page: http://www.tepper.cmu.edu/

Order Information: Web: http://student-3k.tepper.cmu.edu/gsiadoc/GSIA_WP.asp

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  8. Ana Casta¤eda & Javier D¡az-Gim‚nez & Jos‚-Victor R¡os-Rull, 1998. "Earnings and wealth inequality and income taxation: quantifying the tradeoffs of switching to a proportional income tax in the U.S," Working Paper 9814, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
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  10. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Chris & Yaron, Amir, 2002. "Consumption and Risk Sharing Over the Life Cycle," Seminar Papers 702, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
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