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Consumption inequality and partial insurance

Author

Listed:
  • Richard Blundell

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

  • Luigi Pistaferri

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Stanford University)

  • Ian Preston

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

Abstract

This paper describes the transmission of income inequality into consumption inequality and in so doing investigates the degree of insurance to income shocks. It combines panel data on income from the PSID with consumption data from repeated CEX cross-sections and distinguishes between permanent and transitory income shocks. We find some partial insurance of permanent income shocks with more insurance possibilities for the college educated and those nearing retirement. We find little evidence against full insurance for transitory income shocks except among low income households. Tax and welfare benefits are found to play an important role in insuring permanent shocks. Adding durable expenditures to the consumption measure suggests that durable replacement is an important insurance mechanism, especially for transitory income shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2004. "Consumption inequality and partial insurance," IFS Working Papers W04/28, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:04/28
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Altonji, Joseph G & Segal, Lewis M, 1996. "Small-Sample Bias in GMM Estimation of Covariance Structures," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 14(3), pages 353-366, July.
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    3. Altonji, Joseph G. & Martins, Ana Paula & Siow, Aloysius, 2002. "Dynamic factor models of consumption, hours and income," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 3-59, June.
    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. Orazio Attanasio & Erich Battistin & Hidehiko Ichimura, 2004. "What Really Happened to Consumption Inequality in the US?," NBER Working Papers 10338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Joseph G. Altonji & Aloysius Siow, 1987. "Testing the Response of Consumption to Income Changes with (Noisy) Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 293-328.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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