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Is there a retirement consumption puzzle in Italy?

  • Raffaele Miniaci
  • Chiara Monfardini
  • Guglielmo Weber

In this paper we investigate the way consumption changes around retirement in Italy. Using micro data covering the 1985-96 period, we find that consumption age patterns are similar to those found in the US and other developed countries, despite the much more wide-spread cohabitation of different generations. We also document the existence of a one-off drop in consumption at retirement of the household head, as in the UK and the US, and find that consumption of work-related goods falls around retirement age and home production of food and other goods increases. Given that we can provide evidence that Italian households who retired over the sample period knew reasonably well what their pension income would be, the only reason why forward looking consumers should reduce spending around retirement is because of their increased consumption of leisure. We do find evidence that the abrupt falls in total non-durable consumption at retirement disappear when leisure is taken into account, in agreement with the predictions of the life-cycle theory. This finding is robust to the way consumption is attributed to different household members, and to exclusion of non-nuclear households from the analysis.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W03/14.

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Length: 43 pp
Date of creation: Jul 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:03/14
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  1. O. Attanasio & H. W. Hoynes, . "Differential mortality and wealth accumulation," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1079-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  2. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 2000. "Growth and Saving Among Individuals and Households," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(2), pages 212-225, May.
  3. Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 1999. "The Dynamics of Household Wealth Accumulation in Italy," CSEF Working Papers 27, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 01 Dec 2000.
  4. Shorrocks, A F, 1975. "The Age-Wealth Relationship: A Cross-Section and Cohort Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 57(2), pages 155-63, May.
  5. Palumbo, Michael G, 1999. "Uncertain Medical Expenses and Precautionary Saving Near the End of the Life Cycle," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 395-421, April.
  6. Louise Sheiner & David N. Weil, 1992. "The Housing Wealth of the Aged," NBER Working Papers 4115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Alessie, Rob & Lusardi, Annamaria & Kapteyn, Arie, 1995. "Saving and wealth holdings of the elderly," Ricerche Economiche, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 293-314, September.
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