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Estimating the Effects of Earnings Uncertainty on Families's Saving and Insurance Decisions

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  • Palumbo, M.G.

Abstract

This paper investigates whether families save partially to self-insure against uncertain future earnings and estimates the extent to which pooled insurance substitutes for saving as a precaution against earnings risk. An econometric model is estimated using unique household survey data from the nineteenth century to examine families' joint saving and insurance decisions. The historical micro-data is of interest because it predates widespread social insurance programs, which may stunt self-insurance through private saving among contemporary families. The econometric results imply that two independent measures of idiosyncratic earnings risk matter for families' saving decisions. Additionally, families whose primary wage earners belong to labor unions significantly save less frequently than others, all else being equal, but this tendency is not apparent among members of private benevolent societies.

Suggested Citation

  • Palumbo, M.G., 1998. "Estimating the Effects of Earnings Uncertainty on Families's Saving and Insurance Decisions," Papers 98-07, Houston - Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:housto:98-07
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    Cited by:

    1. John A. James & Michael G. Palumbo & Mark Thomas, 2007. "Consumption smoothing among working-class American families before social insurance," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(4), pages 606-640, October.
    2. Emery, J.C. Herbert, 2010. ""Un-American" or unnecessary? America's rejection of compulsory government health insurance in the Progressive Era," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 68-81, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    CONSUMPTION ; SAVINGS ; INCOME;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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