IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Household welfare, precautionary saving, and social insurance under multiple sources of risk

  • Ivan Vidangos
Registered author(s):

    This paper assesses the quantitative importance of a number of sources of income risk for household welfare and precautionary saving. To that end I construct a lifecycle consumption model in which household income is subject to shocks associated with disability, health, unemployment, job changes, wages, work hours, and a residual component of household income. I use PSID data to estimate the key processes that drive and affect household income, and then use the consumption model to: (i) quantify the welfare value to consumers of providing full, actuarially fair insurance against each source of risk and (ii) measure the contribution of each type of shock to the accumulation of precautionary savings. I find that the value of fully insuring disability, health, and unemployment shocks is extremely small (well below 1/10 of 1 percent of lifetime consumption in the baseline model). The gains from insuring shocks to the wage and to the residual component of household income are significantly larger (above 1% and 2% of lifetime consumption, respectively). These two shocks account for more than 60% of precautionary wealth.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2009-14.

    in new window

    Date of creation: 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2009-14
    Contact details of provider: Postal: 20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20551
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    Order Information: Web:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Baker, Michael & Solon, Gary, 1999. "Earnings Dynamics and Inequality Among Canadian Men, 1976-1992: Evidence from Longitudinal Income Tax Records," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1999130e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    2. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
    3. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Do Saving Incentives Work?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(1), pages 85-180.
    4. Raj Chetty, 2003. "A New Method of Estimating Risk Aversion," NBER Working Papers 9988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Long Term Employment Contracts," NBER Working Papers 1831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2008. "Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1887-1921, December.
    7. Christopher D. Carroll & Andrew A. Samwick, 1998. "How Important Is Precautionary Saving?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(3), pages 410-419, August.
    8. James X. Sullivan, 2008. "Borrowing During Unemployment: Unsecured Debt as a Safety Net," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 383-412.
    9. Steven J. Haider, 2000. "Earnings Instability and Earnings Inequality of Males in the United States: 1967-1991," Working Papers 00-15, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    10. Joseph G. Altonji & Nicolas Williams, 2005. "Do wages rise with job seniority? A reassessment," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(3), pages 370-397, April.
    11. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Fatih Guvenen, 2005. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," Macroeconomics 0507004, EconWPA.
    13. Ana Castaneda & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2003. "Accounting for the U.S. Earnings and Wealth Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 818-857, August.
    14. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris I. Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2000. "Consumption and Risk Sharing Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2002. "Simple solutions to the initial conditions problem in dynamic, nonlinear panel data models with unobserved heterogeneity," CeMMAP working papers CWP18/02, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    16. Louis S. Jacobson & Robert J. LaLonde & Daniel Sullivan, 1992. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 92-11, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    17. Engen, Eric & Gale, William & Uccello, Cori, 1999. "The Adequacy of Household Saving," MPRA Paper 56442, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Gruber, Jonathan, 1997. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 192-205, March.
    19. Richard V. Burkhauser & Mary C. Daly & Andrew J. Houtenville & Nigar Nargis, 2002. "Self-reported work limitation data: what they can and cannot tell us," Working Paper Series 2002-22, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    20. Melvin Stephens, 2002. "Worker Displacement and the Added Worker Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 504-537, July.
    21. Orazio P. Attanasio & James Banks & Costas Meghir & Guglielmo Weber, 1995. "Humps and Bumps in Lifetime Consumption," NBER Working Papers 5350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Low, Hamish & Meghir, Costas & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2008. "Wage Risk and Employment Risk over the Life Cycle," IZA Discussion Papers 3700, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    23. Jonathan Gruber & Aaron S. Yelowitz, 1998. "Public Health Insurance and Private Savings," JCPR Working Papers 42, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    24. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James & Navarro, Salvador, 2004. "Separating uncertainty from heterogeneity in life cycle earnings," Working Paper Series 2005:6, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    25. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Parker, Jonathan A, 2000. "Consumption Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 2345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    26. Hubbard, R. Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P., 1994. "The importance of precautionary motives in explaining individual and aggregate saving," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 59-125, June.
    27. Christopher D. Carroll, 2001. "A Theory of the Consumption Function, with and without Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 23-45, Summer.
    28. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
    29. Mary C. Daly & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2002. "The Supplemental Security Income program," Working Paper Series 2002-20, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    30. Susan Dynarski & Jonathan Gruber, 1997. "Can Families Smooth Variable Earnings?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 229-303.
    31. repec:oup:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:2:p:603-640 is not listed on IDEAS
    32. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2001. "Income variance dynamics and heterogenity," IFS Working Papers W01/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    33. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2005. "Differential mortality, uncertain medical expenses, and the saving of elderly singles," Working Paper Series WP-05-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    34. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Chris & Yaron, Amir, 2002. "Asset pricing with idiosyncratic risk and overlapping generations," Seminar Papers 703, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    35. Hause, John C, 1980. "The Fine Structure of Earnings and the On-the-Job Training Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 1013-29, May.
    36. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2007. "Identifying and Estimating the Distributions of Ex Post and Ex Ante Returns to Schooling," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 870-893, December.
    37. Joseph G. Altonji & Lewis M. Segal, 1994. "Small sample bias in GMM estimation of covariance structures," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    38. Cullen, Julie Berry & Gruber, Jonathan, 2000. "Does Unemployment Insurance Crowd Out Spousal Labor Supply?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 546-72, July.
    39. 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.
    40. David C. Stapleton & Richard V. Burkhauser (ed.), 2003. "The Decline in Employment of People with Disabilities: A Policy Puzzle," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number depd, April.
    41. John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri & Surachai Khitatrakun, 2006. "Are Americans Saving "Optimally" for Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 607-643, August.
    42. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris I. Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2004. "Cyclical Dynamics in Idiosyncratic Labor Market Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 695-717, June.
    43. Glenn R. Hubbard & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, . "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 3-95, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
    44. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2004. "Do the Rich Save More?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 397-444, April.
    45. Lee A. Lillard & Robert J. Willis, 1976. "Dynamic Aspects of Earnings Mobility," NBER Working Papers 0150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    46. Gourieroux, C & Monfort, A & Renault, E, 1993. "Indirect Inference," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(S), pages S85-118, Suppl. De.
    47. repec:oup:qjecon:v:109:y:1994:i:3:p:659-84 is not listed on IDEAS
    48. Hall, Robert E & Mishkin, Frederic S, 1982. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 461-81, March.
    49. 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.
    50. John Heaton & Deborah Lucas, 1993. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," NBER Working Papers 4249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    51. Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 145-76, February.
    52. Baker, Michael, 1997. "Growth-Rate Heterogeneity and the Covariance Structure of Life-Cycle Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 338-75, April.
    53. Geweke, John & Keane, Michael, 2000. "An empirical analysis of earnings dynamics among men in the PSID: 1968-1989," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 293-356, June.
    54. Martin Browning & Thomas Crossley, 1996. "Unemployment Insurance Benefit Levels and Consumption Changes," Discussion Papers 96-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    55. Gouveia, Miguel & Strauss, Robert P., 1994. "Effective Federal Individual Tax Functions: An Exploratory Empirical Analysis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 47(2), pages 317-39, June.
    56. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., . "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," GSIA Working Papers 1997-37, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
    57. Thomas J. Kniesner & James P. Ziliak, 2000. "Tax Reform and Automatic Stabilization," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 21, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    58. Deaton, A., 1989. "Saving And Liquidity Constraints," Papers 153, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
    59. Anthony A. Smith, Jr. & Michael Keane, 2004. "Generalized Indirect Inference for Discrete Choice Models," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 512, Econometric Society.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2009-14. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kris Vajs)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.