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Income risk and consumption inequality: a simulation study

Author

Listed:
  • Richard Blundell

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and IFS and UCL)

  • Hamish Low

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Trinity College, Cambridge)

  • Ian Preston

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

Abstract

This paper assesses the accuracy of decomposing income risk into permanent and transitory components using income and consumption data. We develop a specific approximation to the optimal consumption growth rule and use Monte Carlo evidence to show that this approximation can provide a robust method for decomposing income risk. The availability of asset data enables the use of a more accurate approximation allowing for partial self-insurance against permanent shocks. We show that the use of data on median asset holdings corrects much of the error in the simple approximation which assumes no self-insurance against permanent shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Blundell & Hamish Low & Ian Preston, 2004. "Income risk and consumption inequality: a simulation study," IFS Working Papers W04/26, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:04/26
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    File URL: http://www.ifs.org.uk/wps/wp0426.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard V. Burkhauser & John G. Poupore, 1997. "A Cross-National Comparison Of Permanent Inequality In The United States And Germany," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(1), pages 10-17, February.
    2. Attanasio, Orazio & Davis, Steven J, 1996. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1227-1262, December.
    3. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1995. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1121-1157, December.
    4. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
    5. Moshe Buchinsky & Jennifer Hunt, 1999. "Wage Mobility In The United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 351-368, August.
    6. Altug, Sumru & Miller, Robert A, 1990. "Household Choices in Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 543-570, May.
    7. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
    8. Christopher D. Carroll, 1997. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 1-55.
    9. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality and Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640.
    10. Mace, Barbara J, 1991. "Full Insurance in the Presence of Aggregate Uncertainty," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(5), pages 928-956, October.
    11. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-467, June.
    12. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2008. "Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1887-1921, December.
    13. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2004. "Income Variance Dynamics and Heterogeneity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 1-32, January.
    14. Krueger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3583, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Robert A. Moffitt & Peter Gottschalk, 2002. "Trends in the Transitory Variance of Earnings in the United States," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages 68-73, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Richard Blundell & Ben Etheridge, 2010. "Consumption, Income and Earnings Inequality in Britain," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 76-102, January.
    2. Cai, Shu & Park, Albert, 2016. "Permanent income and subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 298-319.
    3. Theloudis, Alexandros, 2011. "From income and consumption inequality to economic welfare inequality: the role of labor supply," MPRA Paper 37517, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    income risk; inequality; approximation methods; con-;

    JEL classification:

    • C30 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - General
    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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