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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. 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.
  2. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2001. "The lifecycle model of consumption and saving," IFS Working Papers W01/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2004. "Separating Uncertainty from Heterogeneity in Life Cycle Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 1437, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. 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.
  5. Fatih Guvenen, 2006. "Learning your earning: are labor income shocks really very persistent?," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 145, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. James Feigenbaum & Geng Li, 2008. "Lifecycle Dynamics of Income Uncertainty and Consumption," Working Papers 360, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2008.
  7. Gary D. Hansen & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2006. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle: The Role of Annuities," NBER Working Papers 12341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Nir Jaimovich & Henry E. Siu, 2009. "The Young, the Old, and the Restless: Demographics and Business Cycle Volatility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 804-26, June.
  9. James Feigenbaum, 2006. "Precautionary Saving Unfettered," Working Papers 227, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2006.
  10. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Parker, Jonathan A, 2000. "Consumption Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 2345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
  12. 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.
  13. James Bullard & James Feigenbaum, 2006. "A leisurely reading of the life-cycle consumption data," Working Papers 2003-017, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  14. Dynan Karen & Elmendorf Douglas & Sichel Daniel, 2012. "The Evolution of Household Income Volatility," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 1-42, December.
  15. 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.
  16. Alessandra Fogli & Fabrizio Perri, 2006. "The "Great Moderation" and the US External Imbalance," NBER Working Papers 12708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.).
  18. Feigenbaum, James, 2008. "Can mortality risk explain the consumption hump?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 844-872, September.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  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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