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Consumption-Savings Decisions under Upward Looking Comparisons: Evidence from Germany, 2002-2011

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  • Moritz Drechsel-Grau
  • Kai D. Schmid

Abstract

We demonstrate that interpersonal comparisons lead to "keeping up with the Joneses"-behavior. Using annual household data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, we estimate the causal effect of changes in reference consumption, defined as the consumption level of all households who are perceived to be richer, on household savings and consumption. When controlling for own income, an increase in reference consumption of 100 euros leads to an increase in consumption of 10 to 25 euros. Upper middle class households are most strongly affected. Our findings provide valuable input for macroeconomic models that consider the economic consequences of interdependent preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Moritz Drechsel-Grau & Kai D. Schmid, 2013. "Consumption-Savings Decisions under Upward Looking Comparisons: Evidence from Germany, 2002-2011," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 594, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp594
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kai D. Schmid & Moritz Drechsel-Grau, 2013. "Habits and Envy: What Drives the Consumption Behavior of U.S. Households? Evidence from PSID, 1999-2009," IMK Working Paper 123-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
    2. Klos, Alexander & Rottke, Simon, 2013. "Saving and Consumption When Children Move Out," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79786, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Simon Rottke & Alexander Klos, 2016. "Savings and Consumption When Children Move Out," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 20(6), pages 2349-2377.
    4. repec:tek:journl:v:5:y:2016:i:1:p:71-107 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Household Savings; Household Consumption; Reference Consumption; Interdependent Preferences; Relative Income Hypothesis; Income Inequality;

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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