Trade Liberalization and Private Savings: The Spanish Experience, 1960-1995
This paper provides an interpretation of the evolution of Spanish private and national savings over the period 1960-1995. During these 35 years private and national saving rates oscillated widely from a very high level in the 1960s to historical minima in the early and mid-1980s to a strong recovery in the more recent years. At the same time, Spain transformed itself from an autarkic, underdeveloped and dictatorial country into an advanced, open economy with a fully democratic political life. First, we show that the apparent long-run reduction in Spanish saving rates is mostly due to a change in relative prices and to the choice of what, in our view, is the incorrect deflator. When Spanish real private savings are measured by using the deflator for the price of capital they appear to behave as a stationary, albeit highly volatile, time series relative to private disposable income. We find that a stable "saving function" can be derived from first principles and estimated using annual macroeconomic data. We adopt a traditional model of intertemporal optimization by a representative agent, facing a complete set of borrowing/lending opportunities and an exogenous income process. We use a "habit formation" utility function, to explain the crucial feature of the data, i. e. , the strong and positive impact that innovations in the growth rate of income (either national or private) have on saving (either national or private).
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