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How Have Households Used Their Stimulus Payments and How Would They Spend the Next?



In this post, we examine how households used economic impact payments, a large component of the CARES Act signed into law on March 27 that directed stimulus payments to many Americans to help offset the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. An important question in evaluating how much this part of the CARES Act stimulated the economy concerns what share of these payments households used for consumption—what economists call the marginal propensity to consume (MPC). There also is interest in learning the extent to which the payments contributed to the sharp increase in the U.S. personal saving rate during the early months of the pandemic. We find in this analysis that as of the end of June 2020, a relatively small share of stimulus payments—29 percent—was used for consumption, with 36 percent saved and 35 percent used to pay down debt. Reported expected uses for a potential second stimulus payment suggest an even smaller MPC, with households expecting to use more of the funds to pay down their debts. We find similarly small estimated average consumption out of unemployment insurance (UI) payments, but with somewhat larger shares of these funds used to pay down debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Armantier & Leo Goldman & Gizem Koşar & Jessica Lu & Rachel Pomerantz & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 2020. "How Have Households Used Their Stimulus Payments and How Would They Spend the Next?," Liberty Street Economics 20201013b, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednls:88878

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    Cited by:

    1. Armantier, Olivier & Koşar, Gizem & Pomerantz, Rachel & Skandalis, Daphné & Smith, Kyle & Topa, Giorgio & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2021. "How economic crises affect inflation beliefs: Evidence from the Covid-19 pandemic," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 189(C), pages 443-469.
    2. Martin Schneider & Richard Sellner, 2022. "Private consumption and savings during the COVID-19 pandemic in Austria," Monetary Policy & the Economy, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank), issue Q4/21, pages 43-59.
    3. Divakaruni, Anantha & Zimmerman, Peter, 2021. "Uncovering Retail Trading in Bitcoin: The Impact of COVID-19 Stimulus Checks," SocArXiv khw8a, Center for Open Science.
    4. Jonathan A. Parker & Jake Schild & Laura Erhard & David Johnson, 2022. "Household Spending Responses to the Economic Impact Payments of 2020: Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," NBER Working Papers 29648, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Demary, Markus & Hüther, Michael, 2021. "Global inflation: Low for long or higher for longer?," IW-Reports 12/2021, Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (IW) / German Economic Institute.
    6. Akos Horvath & Benjamin S. Kay & Carlo Wix, 2021. "The COVID-19 Shock and Consumer Credit: Evidence from Credit Card Data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2021-008, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

    More about this item


    pandemic; stimulus payments; marginal propensity to consume; COVID-19;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General


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