IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ifs/ifsewp/07-08.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why is consumption more log normal than income? Gibrat's law revisited

Author

Listed:
  • Erich Battistin

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Richard Blundell

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

  • Arthur Lewbel

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Boston College)

Abstract

Significant departures from log normality are observed in income data, in violation of Gibrat's law. We identify a new empirical regularity, which is that the distribution of consumption expenditures across households is, within cohorts, closer to log normal than the distribution of income. We explain these empirical results by showing that the logic of Gibrat's law applies not to total income, but to permanent income and to maginal utility. These findings have important implications for welfare and inequality measurement, aggregation, and econometric model analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Erich Battistin & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 2007. "Why is consumption more log normal than income? Gibrat's law revisited," IFS Working Papers W07/08, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:07/08
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.ifs.org.uk/wps/wp0708.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2004. "Imputing consumption in the PSID using food demand estimates from the CEX," IFS Working Papers W04/27, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    2. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-987, December.
    3. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2003. "Measuring the Well-Being of the Poor Using Income and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 9760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Erich Battistin & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 2009. "Why Is Consumption More Log Normal than Income? Gibrat's Law Revisited," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(6), pages 1140-1154, December.
    5. Milton Friedman, 1957. "Introduction to "A Theory of the Consumption Function"," NBER Chapters, in: A Theory of the Consumption Function, pages 1-6, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1995. "Income, expenditure and the living standards of UK households," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 16(3), pages 40-54, August.
    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. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. & White, Halbert, 1988. "Some Invariance Principles and Central Limit Theorems for Dependent Heterogeneous Processes," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 210-230, August.
    9. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality and Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640.
    10. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-467, June.
    11. Xavier Gabaix, 1999. "Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 114(3), pages 739-767.
    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. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, July.
    15. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, Decembrie.
    16. Erich Battistin, 2002. "Errors in Survey Reports of Consumption Expenditures," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 C4-2, International Conferences on Panel Data.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Meghir, Costas & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2011. "Earnings, Consumption and Life Cycle Choices," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 9, pages 773-854, Elsevier.
    2. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2014. "Consumption and Labor Supply with Partial Insurance: An Analytical Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2075-2126, July.
    3. Iourii Manovskii & Dmytro Hryshko & Moira Daly, 2015. "Reconciling Estimates of Earnings Processes in Growth Rates and Levels," 2015 Meeting Papers 1395, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Emma Tominey, 2010. "The Timing of Parental Income and Child Outcomes: The Role of Permanent and Transitory Shocks," CEE Discussion Papers 0120, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    5. Dmytro Hryshko, 2012. "Labor income profiles are not heterogeneous: Evidence from income growth rates," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(2), pages 177-209, July.
    6. Richard Blundell & Hamish Low & Ian Preston, 2013. "Decomposing changes in income risk using consumption data," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 4(1), pages 1-37, March.
    7. Attanasio, Orazio P., 1995. "The intertemporal allocation of consumption: theory and evidence," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 39-56, June.
    8. Moira Daly & Dmytro Hryshko & Iourii Manovskii, 2022. "Improving The Measurement Of Earnings Dynamics," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 63(1), pages 95-124, February.
    9. José Casado, 2011. "From income to consumption: measuring households partial insurance," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 471-495, April.
    10. Etheridge, Ben, 2015. "A test of the household income process using consumption and wealth data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 129-157.
    11. Gordon Anderson & Oliver Linton & Maria Grazia Pittau & Yoon-Jae Whang & Roberto Zelli, 2021. "On unit free assessment of the extent of multilateral distributional variation," The Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 24(3), pages 502-518.
    12. Richard Disney & Andy McKay & C Rashaad Shabab, 2023. "Household inequality and remittances in rural Thailand: a life-cycle perspective," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(2), pages 418-443.
    13. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory," NBER Working Papers 9202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Koval, Pavel & Polbin , Andrey, 2020. "Evaluation of permanent and transitory shocks role in consumption and income dynamics in the Russian Federation," Applied Econometrics, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), vol. 57, pages 6-29.
    15. Jessen, Robin & König, Johannes, 2018. "Hours risk, wage risk, and life-cycle labor supply," Ruhr Economic Papers 771, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    16. Disney, Richard & Mckay, Andy & Shabab, C Rashaad, 2023. "Household inequality and remittances in rural Thailand: a life-cycle perspective," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 121207, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. Athreya, Kartik & Tam, Xuan S. & Young, Eric R., 2009. "Unsecured credit markets are not insurance markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 83-103, January.
    18. Reis, Ricardo, 2006. "Inattentive consumers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 1761-1800, November.
    19. Robin Jessen & Johannes König, 2020. "Hours Risk and Wage Risk: Repercussions over the Life-Cycle," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1845, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    20. Orazio Attanasio & Margherita Borella, 2006. "Stochastic Components of Individual Consumption: A Time Series Analysis of Grouped Data," NBER Working Papers 12456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:07/08. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Emma Hyman (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/ifsssuk.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.