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The Response of Household Saving to the Large Shock of German Reunification

Listed author(s):
  • Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln

German reunification was a large, unexpected shock for East Germans, with different economic consequences for different birth cohorts. Exploiting German reunification as a natural experiment, I analyze the validity of the life-cycle consumption model. In the empirical part, I derive three stylized features concerning the saving behavior of East vs. West Germans in the 1990s: (i) East Germans have higher saving rates than West Germans after reunification, (ii) this East-West gap in saving rates is increasing in the age of the birth cohort, and (iii) for every cohort, this gap is declining over time. The theoretical part investigates whether a comprehensive life cycle model can predict these three features. I find strong evidence in favor of rational, forward looking saving behavior. The precautionary saving motive is essential in replicating the features from the data.

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File URL: http://crr.bc.edu/working-papers/the-response-of-household-saving-to-the-large-shock-of-german-reunification/
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Paper provided by Center for Retirement Research in its series Working Papers, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College with number wp2008-21.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision: Dec 2008
Handle: RePEc:crr:crrwps:wp2008-21
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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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  5. 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.
  6. Bonin, Holger & Euwals, Rob, 2001. "Participation Behavior of East German Women after German Unification," IZA Discussion Papers 413, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2001. "The Life-Cycle Model of Consumption and Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 3-22, Summer.
  8. Shapiro, Matthew D & Slemrod, Joel, 1995. "Consumer Response to the Timing of Income: Evidence from a Change in Tax Withholding," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 274-283, March.
  9. Merz, Joachim & Faik, Jürgen, 1994. "Equivalence Scales Based on Revealed Preference Consumption Expenditure Microdata - The Case of West Germany," MPRA Paper 16297, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Thurow, Lester C, 1969. "The Optimum Lifetime Distribution of Consumption Expenditures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(3), pages 324-330, June.
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  12. Carroll, Christopher D. & Weil, David N., 1994. "Saving and growth: a reinterpretation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 133-192, June.
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  14. Sinn, Gerlinde & Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1992. "Kaltstart. Volkswirtschaftliche Aspekte der Deutschen Vereinigung," Monograph, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, edition 2, number urn:isbn:9783161459429.
  15. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 47-89, January.
  16. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 2002. "Germany's Economic Unification: An Assessment after Ten Years," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 113-128, February.
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  18. Souleles, Nicholas S., 2000. "College tuition and household savings and consumption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 185-207, August.
  19. Carroll, Christopher D. & Samwick, Andrew A., 1997. "The nature of precautionary wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 41-71, September.
  20. Nicholas S. Souleles, 1999. "The Response of Household Consumption to Income Tax Refunds," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 947-958, September.
  21. Souleles, Nicholas S., 2002. "Consumer response to the Reagan tax cuts," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 99-120, July.
  22. Ralf A. Wilke, 2006. "Semi-parametric estimation of consumption-based equivalence scales: the case of Germany," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(6), pages 781-802.
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