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Consumption Commitments and Preferences for Risk

Author

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  • Larry Samuelson
  • Andrew Postlewaite

Abstract

We examine an economy in which the cost of consuming some goods can be reduced by making commitments to consumption levels that do not vary across states. For example, moral hazard and matching considerations may make it cheaper to produce housing services via owner-occupied than rented housing, but the transactions costs associated with the former may compel consumers to adopt a realtively inflexible housing consumptin plan. We show that consumption commitments can cause risk-neutral consumers to care a great deal about risk, creating an incentive to insure risks and to bunch uninsured risks together. As a result, workers may preger to avoid wage risk while bearing an unemployment risk that is concentrated in as few states as possible. The interaction between consumptin and labor markets may give rise to multiple equilibria. The basic predictions of the model are compared with corresponding moments of US data on layoff risk and housing consumption.

Suggested Citation

  • Larry Samuelson & Andrew Postlewaite, 2004. "Consumption Commitments and Preferences for Risk," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 162, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:nawm04:162
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George A. Akerlof & Hajime Miyazaki, 1980. "The Implicit Contract Theory of Unemployment meets the Wage Bill Argument," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 321-338.
    2. Richard E. Kihlstrom & Leonard J. Mirman, 1981. "Constant, Increasing and Decreasing Risk Aversion with Many Commodities," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(2), pages 271-280.
    3. Ellingsen, Tore & Holden, Steinar, 1995. "Sticky Consumption and Rigid Wages," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 62, Stockholm School of Economics.
    4. Martin Neil Baily, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50.
    5. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
    6. Adam Szeidl & Raj Chetty, 2004. "Consumption Commitments and Asset Prices," 2004 Meeting Papers 354, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1969. "Real Wages, Employment, and Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 721-754, Sept./Oct.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen H. Shore & Todd Sinai, 2010. "Commitment, Risk, and Consumption: Do Birds of a Feather Have Bigger Nests?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 408-424, May.
    2. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 2011. "Risk, Delay, and Convex Self-Control Costs," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 34-68, August.
    3. Holden, Steinar & Wulfsberg, Fredrik, 2009. "How strong is the macroeconomic case for downward real wage rigidity?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 605-615, May.
    4. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2016. "Consumption Commitments and Habit Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 855-890, March.
    5. Steinar Holden & Fredrik Wulfsberg, 2007. "Are Real Wages Rigid Downwards?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1983, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Adam Szeidl & Raj Chetty, 2005. "Consumption Commitments: Neoclassical Foundations for Habit Formation," 2005 Meeting Papers 122, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2007. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 831-877.
    8. Steinar Holden & Fredrik Wulfsberg, 2007. "How strong is the case for downward real wage rigidity?," Working Papers 07-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    risk aversion; consumption commitments; wage contracts;

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty

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