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Housing prices and the high Chinese saving rate puzzle

  • Xin Wang
  • Yi Wen
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China’s over 25% aggregate household saving rate is one of the highest in the world. One popular view attributes the high saving rate to fast-rising housing prices in China. However, cross-sectional data do not show a significant relationship between housing prices and household saving rates. This article uses a simple consumption-saving model to explain why rising housing prices per se cannot explain China’s high household saving rate. Although borrowing constraints and demographic changes can translate housing prices to the aggregate saving rate, quantitative simulations of our model using Chinese time-series data on household income, housing prices, and demographics indicate that rising mortgage costs can increase the aggregate saving rate by at most 2 to 4 percentage points in the best down-payment structure.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2012-038.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2012-038
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  1. Jody Overland & Christopher D. Carroll & David N. Weil, 2000. "Saving and Growth with Habit Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 341-355, June.
  2. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 511 - 564.
  3. Case, Karl E. & Quigley, John M. & Shiller, Robert J., 2005. "Comparing Wealth Effects: The Stock Market versus the Housing Market," Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy, Working Paper Series qt28d3s92s, Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy.
  4. Milton Friedman, 1957. "Introduction to "A Theory of the Consumption Function"," NBER Chapters, in: A Theory of the Consumption Function, pages 1-6 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Ayse Imrohoroglu & Kaiji Chen, 2006. "The Japanese Saving Rate," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1850-1858, December.
  6. Charles Yuji Horioka & Junmin Wan, 2007. "The determinants of household saving in China: a dynamic panel analysis of provincial data," Working Paper Series 2007-28, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  7. Kai Liu & Marcos Chamon & Eswar Prasad, 2010. "Income Uncertainty and Household Savings in China," IMF Working Papers 10/289, International Monetary Fund.
  8. Selo Imrohoroglu & Kaiji Chen & Ayse Imrohoroglu, 2005. "Japanese Saving Rate," 2005 Meeting Papers 747, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Franco Modigliani & Shi Larry Cao, 2004. "The Chinese Saving Puzzle and the Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 145-170, March.
  10. Fumio Hayashi, 1986. "Why Is Japan's Saving Rate So Apparently High?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 147-234 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Marcos D. Chamon & Eswar S. Prasad, 2010. "Why Are Saving Rates of Urban Households in China Rising?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 93-130, January.
  12. Yi Wen, 2009. "Saving and growth under borrowing constraints explaining the "high saving rate" puzzle," Working Papers 2009-045, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  13. Horioka, Charles Yuji, 1990. "Why is Japan's household saving rate so high? A literature survey," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 49-92, March.
  14. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, December.
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