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A semiparametric characterization of income uncertainty over the life cycle

  • James A. Feigenbaum
  • Geng Li

We propose a novel approach to estimate household income uncertainty at various future horizons and characterize how the estimated uncertainty evolves over the life cycle. We measure income uncertainty as the variance of linear forecast errors conditional on information available to households prior to observing the realized income. This approach is semiparametric because we impose essentially no restrictions on the statistical properties of the forecast errors. Relative to previous studies, we find lower and less persistent income uncertainties that call for a life cycle consumption profile with a less pronounced hump.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2010-42.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2010-42
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  1. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Parker, Jonathan A, 2000. "Consumption Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 2345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Alessandra Fogli & Fabrizio Perri, 2006. "The "Great Moderation" and the US External Imbalance," NBER Working Papers 12708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Margaret M. McConnell & Gabriel Perez Quiros, 1997. "Output fluctuations in the United States: what has changed since the early 1980s?," Research Paper 9735, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  4. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 687-712, June.
  5. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles R. Nelson, 1999. "Has The U.S. Economy Become More Stable? A Bayesian Approach Based On A Markov-Switching Model Of The Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 608-616, November.
  6. Luis M. Viceira, 1999. "Optimal Portfolio Choice for Long-Horizon Investors with Nontradable Labor Income," NBER Working Papers 7409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bullard, James & Feigenbaum, James, 2007. "A leisurely reading of the life-cycle consumption data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(8), pages 2305-2320, November.
  8. Feigenbaum James A. & Li Geng, 2012. "Life Cycle Dynamics of Income Uncertainty and Consumption," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-49, May.
  9. James Feigenbaum, 2006. "Precautionary Saving Unfettered," Working Papers 227, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2006.
  10. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating Uncertainty from Heterogeneity in Life Cycle Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11024, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Michael Baker & Gary Solon, 2003. "Earnings Dynamics and Inequality among Canadian Men, 1976-1992: Evidence from Longitudinal Income Tax Records," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 267-288, April.
  12. Henry Siu & Nir Jaimovich, 2006. "The Young, the Old, and the Restless: Demographics and Business Cycle Volatility," 2006 Meeting Papers 815, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris Telmer & Amir Yaron, 1997. "Consumption and risk sharing over the life cycle," GSIA Working Papers 228, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  14. Feigenbaum, James, 2008. "Can mortality risk explain the consumption hump?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 844-872, September.
  15. Gary Hansen & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2008. "Consumption over the Life Cycle: The Role of Annuities," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(3), pages 566-583, July.
  16. 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.
  17. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2000. "The Life Cycle Model of Consumption and Saving," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 28, McMaster University.
  18. Karen E. Dynan & Douglas W. Elmendorf & Daniel E. Sichel, 2007. "The evolution of household income volatility," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2007-61, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  19. James Feigenbaum & Geng Li, 2011. "Household income uncertainties over three decades," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2011-25, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  20. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
  21. Feigenbaum, James, 2008. "Information shocks and precautionary saving," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 3917-3938, December.
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