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Policy Uncertainty and Precautionary Savings

  • Giavazzi, Francesco
  • McMahon, Michael

In 1997 Chancellor Kohl proposed a major pension reform and 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 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 labour market choices: we find evidence of a labour supply response by those workers who can use the margin offered by part-time employment.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6766.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6766
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  1. Giavazzi, Francesco & McMahon, Michael, 2008. "Policy Uncertainty and Precautionary Savings," CEPR Discussion Papers 6766, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Nick Bloom, 2007. "Uncertainty and the Dynamics of R&D," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 250-255, May.
  3. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 2000. "The German Savings Puzzle," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 01-07, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  4. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2001. "The Empirical Importance of Precautionary Saving," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 406-412, May.
  5. Murata, Keiko, 2003. "Precautionary Savings and Income Uncertainty: Evidence from Japanese Micro Data," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 21(3), pages 21-52, October.
  6. Carroll, Christopher D. & Kimball, Miles S., 2006. "Precautionary Saving and Precautionary Wealth," CFS Working Paper Series 2006/02, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  7. Whitehouse, Edward & Queisser, Monika, 2007. "Pensions at a glance: public policies across OECD countries," MPRA Paper 16349, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Borsch-Supan, Axel H & Stahl, Konrad, 1991. "Life Cycle Savings and Consumption Constraints: Theory, Empirical Evidence, and Fiscal Implications," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 233-55, August.
  9. Tito Boeri & Axel Börsch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Would you like to shrink the welfare state? A survey of European citizens," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 7-50, 04.
  10. Lusardi, Annamaria, 1998. "On the Importance of the Precautionary Saving Motive," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 449-53, May.
  11. Martin Browning & S¯ren Leth-Petersen, 2003. "Imputing consumption from income and wealth information," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(488), pages F282-F301, 06.
  12. Cagetti, Marco, 2003. "Wealth Accumulation over the Life Cycle and Precautionary Savings," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 21(3), pages 339-53, July.
  13. Tullio Jappelli & Franco Modigliani, 1998. "The Age-Saving Profile and the Life-Cycle Hypothesis," CSEF Working Papers 09, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  14. Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, 2008. "The Response of Household Saving to the Large Shock of German Reunification," Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College wp2008-21, Center for Retirement Research, revised Dec 2008.
  15. Nicola Fuchs-Schundeln, 2008. "The Response of Household Saving to the Large Shock of German Reunification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1798-1828, December.
  16. Orazio P. Attanasio & Agar Brugiavini, 2003. "Social Security And Households' Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1075-1119, August.
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