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Household income uncertainties over three decades

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  • James Feigenbaum
  • Geng Li

Abstract

We study the trend in household income uncertainty using a novel approach that measures income uncertainty as the variance of forecast errors at each future horizon separately without imposing parametric restrictions on the underlying income shocks. We find that household income uncertainty has risen significantly and persistently since the early 1970s. For example, our measure of near-future uncertainty in total family non-capital income rose about 40 percent between 1971 and 2002. This rising uncertainty is likely due to the increase in variances of both persistent and transitory income shocks. Although the increase in uncertainty was widespread, the increase was most pronounced among single-earner households and high-income households. A parsimoniously calibrated Aiyagari (1994) model is solved to illustrate how rising income uncertainty affects aggregate saving.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2011-25
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Tony Smith & M. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Inferring Labor Income Risk from Economic Choices: An Indirect Inference Approach," 2007 Meeting Papers 1024, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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    13. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 2009. "The Rising Instability of U.S. Earnings," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 3-24, Fall.
    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.
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    Cited by:

    1. MORIKAWA Masayuki, 2017. "Impact of Policy Uncertainty on Consumption and Saving Behavior: Evidence from a survey on consumers," Discussion papers 17075, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    2. James Feigenbaum & Geng Li, 2010. "A semiparametric characterization of income uncertainty over the life cycle," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Households - Economic aspects ; Uncertainty ; Saving and investment;

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