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Is the elasticity of intertemporal substitution constant?

  • Thomas Crossley


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies, University of Essex)

  • Hamish Low


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Trinity College, Cambridge)

This paper shows that a power utility specification of preferences over total expenditure (ie. CRRA preferences) implies that intratemporal demands are in the PIGL/PIGLOG class. This class generates (at most) rank two demand systems and we can test the validity of power utility on cross-section data. Further, if we maintain the assumption of power utility, and within period preferences are not homothetic, then the intertemporal preference parameter is identified by the curvature of Engel curves. Under the power utility assumption, neither Euler equation estimation nor structural consumption function estimation is necessary to identify the power parameter. In our empirical work, we use demand data to estimate the power utility parameter and to test the assumption of the power utility representation. We find estimates of the power parameter larger than obtained from Euler equation estimation, but we reject the power specification of within period utility.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W05/25.

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Length: 24 pp.
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:05/25
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  1. Deaton, Angus S & Muellbauer, John, 1980. "An Almost Ideal Demand System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 312-26, June.
  2. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley, 2000. "Luxuries Are Easier to Postpone: A Proof," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1022-1026, October.
  3. MacKinnon, James G, 1992. "Model Specification Tests and Artificial Regressions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 102-46, March.
  4. Muellbauer, John, 1976. "Community Preferences and the Representative Consumer," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 44(5), pages 979-99, September.
  5. 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 1121-57, December.
  6. Lewbel, Arthur, 1996. "Demand Estimation with Expenditure Measurement Errors on the Left and Right Hand Side," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 718-25, November.
  7. Sydney Ludvigson & Christina H. Paxson, 2001. "Approximation Bias In Linearized Euler Equations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 242-256, May.
  8. L. Eeckhoudt & C. Gollier & H. Schlesinger, 2005. "Economic and financial decisions under risk," Post-Print hal-00325882, HAL.
  9. Richard Blundell & Martin Browning & Costas Meghir, 1993. "Consumer demand and the life-cycle allocation of household expenditures," IFS Working Papers W93/11, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Pollak, Robert A & Wales, Terence J, 1979. "Welfare Comparisons and Equivalence Scales," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(2), pages 216-21, May.
  11. Orazio Attanasio & Hamish Low, 2002. "Estimating Euler equations," IFS Working Papers W02/06, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  12. Muellbauer, John, 1975. "Aggregation, Income Distribution and Consumer Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(4), pages 525-43, October.
  13. Ait-Sahalia, Yacine & Lo, Andrew W., 2000. "Nonparametric risk management and implied risk aversion," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 9-51.
  14. Lewbel, Arthur, 1991. "The Rank of Demand Systems: Theory and Nonparametric Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 711-30, May.
  15. Attanasio, Orazio P & Browning, Martin, 1995. "Consumption over the Life Cycle and over the Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1118-37, December.
  16. Arthur Lewbel, 2003. "A rational rank four demand system," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 127-135.
  17. Pollak, Robert A, 1971. "Additive Utility Functions and Linear Engel Curves," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(116), pages 401-14, October.
  18. Sule Alan & Martin Browning, 2003. "Estimating Intertemporal Allocation Parameters using Simulated Residual Estimation," CAM Working Papers 2003-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  19. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 1997. "Quadratic Engel Curves And Consumer Demand," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 527-539, November.
  20. Atkeson, Andrew & Ogaki, Masao, 1996. "Wealth-varying intertemporal elasticities of substitution: Evidence from panel and aggregate data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 507-534, December.
  21. Lwebel Arthur & Perraudin William, 1995. "A Theorem on Portfolio Separation with General Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 624-626, April.
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