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Why is Italy Saving Rate so High?


  • Guiso, L.
  • Jappelli, T.
  • Terlizzese, D.


In this paper we provide an explanation for three features that characterize the Italian savings rate: by international standards, Italy is a `high-saving' country; the Italian savings rate has declined markedly in the last three decades; the correlation between saving and growth is stronger in Italy than in countries at comparable stages of economic development. We compare the size and characteristics of credit and insurance markets in the major OECD countries and argue that the strikingly low development of Italian capital markets may explain these features of savings in Italy. In the second part of the paper we provide a number of empirical tests to assess the effect of earnings uncertainty and borrowing constraints on household saving. The results suggest that capital market imperfections are the likely source of the high Italian savings rate and of the strong saving-growth correlation. We consider the potential role of the public and informal sectors, bequests and the slope of the earnings profile, but reject these as explanations of Italian savings behaviour.
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Suggested Citation

  • Guiso, L. & Jappelli, T. & Terlizzese, D., 1992. "Why is Italy Saving Rate so High?," Papers 167, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:banita:167

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Brandolini & Luigi Cannari & Giovanni D’Alessio & Ivan Faiella, 2006. "Household Wealth Distribution in Italy in the 1990s," Chapters,in: International Perspectives on Household Wealth, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Luigi Guiso & Anil K. Kashyap & Fabio Panetta & Daniele Terlizzese, 1999. "Will a common European monetary policy have asymmetric effects?," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q IV, pages 56-75.
    3. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CSEF Working Papers 43, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    4. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 2000. "Household Savings in Germany," Discussion Papers 577, Institut fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre und Statistik, Abteilung fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre.
    5. Albert Ando & Sergio Nicoletti-Altimari, 2004. "A micro simulation model of demographic development and households' economic behavior in Italy," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 533, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    6. Alberto Bisin & Danilo Guaitoli, 2004. "Moral Hazard and Nonexclusive Contracts," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 35(2), pages 306-328, Summer.
    7. Stefano Cosma & Francesco Pattarin, 2012. "Attitudes, personality factors and household debt decisions: A study of consumer credit," Centro Studi di Banca e Finanza (CEFIN) (Center for Studies in Banking and Finance) 12021, Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Dipartimento di Economia "Marco Biagi".
    8. Andrea Brandolini & Luigi Cannari & Giovanni D’Alessio & Ivan Faiella, 2006. "Household Wealth Distribution in Italy in the 1990s," Chapters,in: International Perspectives on Household Wealth, chapter 7 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Axel Börsch-Supan & Anette Reil-Held & Ralf Rodepeter & Reinhold Schnabel & University of Mannheim & Germany, 2000. "Household Savings in Germany," Macroeconomics 0004053, EconWPA.
    10. Attanasio, Orazio P., 1995. "The intertemporal allocation of consumption: theory and evidence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 39-56, June.
    11. Tullio Jappelli & Marco Pagano, 1997. "The Determinants of Savings: Lessons from Italy," Research Department Publications 3012, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    12. Tullio Jappelli & Franco Modigliani, 2006. "The Age–Saving Profile and the Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Chapters,in: Long-run Growth and Short-run Stabilization, chapter 2 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. Orazio P. Attanasio, 1998. "Consumption Demand," NBER Working Papers 6466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2000. "Using subjective income expectations to test for excess sensitivity of consumption to predicted income growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 337-358, February.
    15. Luca Casolaro & Leonardo Gambacorta & Luigi Guiso, 2005. "Regulation, formal and informal enforcement and the development of the household loan market. Lessons from Italy," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 560, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    16. Irving Fisher Committee, 2004. "The IFC's contribution to the 54th ISI Session, Berlin, August 2003," IFC Bulletins, Bank for International Settlements, number 17.
    17. Albert Ando & Luigi Guiso & Daniele Terlizzese, 1993. "Dissaving by the Elderly, Transfer Motives and Liquidity Constraints," NBER Working Papers 4569, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    savings ; financial market;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • O52 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Europe


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