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The Time Path of the Saving Rate: Hyperbolic Discounting and Short-Term Planning

Listed author(s):
  • Y. Hossein Farzin

    (Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Davis, U.S.A. and Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies (OxCarre), Department of Economics, University of Oxford, UK)

  • Ronald Wendner

    (Department of Economics, University of Graz, Austria)

The standard neoclassical growth model with Cobb-Douglas production predicts a monotonically declining saving rate, when reasonably calibrated. Ample empirical evidence, however, shows that the transition paths of most countries’ saving rates exhibit a statistically significant hump-shaped pattern. Prior literature shows that CES production may imply a hump-shaped pattern of the saving rate (Goméz, 2008). However, the implied magnitude of the hump falls short of what is seen in empirical data. We introduce two non-standard features of preferences into a neoclassical growth model with CES production: hyperbolic discounting and short planning horizons. We show that, in contrast to the commonly accepted argument, in general (except for the special case of logarithmic utility) a model with hyperbolic discounting is not observationally equivalent to one with exponential discounting. We also show that our framework implies a hump-shaped saving rate dynamics that is consistent with empirical evidence. Hyperbolic discounting turns out to be a major factor explaining the magnitude of the hump of the saving rate path. Numerical simulations employing a generalized class of hyperbolic discount functions, which we term regular discount functions, support the results.

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Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2014.63.

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Date of creation: Jul 2014
Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2014.63
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  1. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 1996. "The Poverty of Nations: A Quantitative Exploration," NBER Working Papers 5414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Shafer, Jeffrey R & Elmeskov, Jorgen & Tease, Warren, 1992. " Saving Trends and Measurement Issues," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(2), pages 155-175.
  3. Trimborn, Timo & Koch, Karl-Josef & Steger, Thomas M., 2008. "Multidimensional Transitional Dynamics: A Simple Numerical Procedure," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 301-319, June.
  4. T. Findley & Frank Caliendo, 2009. "Short horizons, time inconsistency, and optimal social security," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 16(4), pages 487-513, August.
  5. Kent Smetters, 2003. "The (Interesting) Dynamic Properties of the Neoclassical Growth Model with CES Production," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(3), pages 697-707, July.
  6. Maddison, Angus, 1992. " A Long-Run Perspective on Saving," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(2), pages 181-196.
  7. Caliendo, Frank & Aadland, David, 2007. "Short-term planning and the life-cycle consumption puzzle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 1392-1415, April.
  8. Ben R. Craig & William E. Jackson & James B. Thomson, 2004. "On SBA-guaranteed lending and economic growth," Working Paper 0403, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  9. Caliendo, Frank N. & Findley, T. Scott, 2014. "Discount functions and self-control problems," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(3), pages 416-419.
  10. Lawrence J. Christiano, 1989. "Understanding Japan's saving rate: the reconstruction hypothesis," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Spr, pages 10-25.
  11. Thaler, Richard, 1981. "Some empirical evidence on dynamic inconsistency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 201-207.
  12. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-357, April.
  13. Findley, T. Scott & Caliendo, Frank N., 2014. "Interacting mechanisms of time inconsistency," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 68-76.
  14. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
  15. Loayza, Norman & Schmidt-Hebbel, Klaus & Serven, Luis, 2000. "What drives private saving around the world?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2309, The World Bank.
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