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Consumption inequality and intra-household allocations

  • Jeremy Lise

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

  • Shannon Seitz

The consumption literature uses adult equivalence scales to measure individual level inequality. This practice imposes the assumption that there is no within household inequality. In this paper, we show that ignoring consumption inequality within households produces misleading estimates of inequality along two dimensions. First, the use of adult equivalence scales underestimates the level of cross sectional consumption inequality by 30 percent, as large differences in the earnings of husbands and wives translate into large differences in consumption allocations within households. Second, the rise in inequality since the 1970s is overstated by almost two-thirds: within household inequality declined over time as the share of income provided by wives increased. Our findings also indicate that increases in marital sorting on wages and hours worked can simultaneously explain virtually all of the decline in within household inequality and a substantial fraction of the rise in between household inequality for one and two adult households in the UK since the 1970s.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W07/09.

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Date of creation: Jul 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:07/09
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  1. Martin Browning & P.A. Chiappori, 1996. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations - A General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Discussion Papers 96-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  2. Browning, M. & Bourguignon, F. & Chiappori, P.A. & Lechene, V., 1992. "Incomes and Outcomes: A structural Model of Intra-Household Allocation," DELTA Working Papers 92-23, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  3. Richard Blundell & Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Thierry Magnac & Costas Meghir, 2007. "Collective Labour Supply: Heterogeneity and Non-Participation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 417-445.
  4. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  5. Thomas F. Crossley & Krishna Pendakur, 2002. "Consumption Inequality," Department of Economics Working Papers 2002-09, McMaster University.
  6. Frederic Vermeulen, 2000. "Collective household models: principles and main results," Public Economics Working Paper Series ces0028, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Working Group Public Economics.
  7. Garry Barrett & Thomas Crossley & Christopher Worswick, 1999. "Consumption and Income Inequality in Australia," CEPR Discussion Papers 404, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  8. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi, 1990. "Are better off households more unequal or less unequal ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 373, The World Bank.
  9. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1997. "Consumption, inequality and income uncertainty," IFS Working Papers W97/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521296762 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2001. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation and Household Labor Supply," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-16, CIRANO.
  12. Martin Browning & Pierre-André Chiappori & Arthur Lewbel, . "Estimating Consumption Economies of Scale, Adult Equivalence Scales, and Household Bargaining Power," CAM Working Papers 2003-12, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics, revised Dec 2003.
  13. Richard Blundell & Pierre-Andr� Chiappori & Costas Meghir, 2005. "Collective Labor Supply with Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1277-1306, December.
  14. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
  15. Raquel Fernández & Richard Rogerson, 2001. "Sorting And Long-Run Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1305-1341, November.
  16. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi, 1990. "How Serious Is the Neglect of Intra-Household Inequality?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 866-81, September.
  17. Erich Battistin, 2003. "Errors in survey reports of consumption expenditures," IFS Working Papers W03/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  18. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2005. "Does income inequality lead to consumption equality? evidence and theory," Staff Report 363, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  19. Jay H. Hong & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2004. "Life insurance and household consumption," Working Papers 04-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  20. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1984. "Inequality Decomposition by Population Subgroups," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1369-85, November.
  21. Pendakur, Krishna, 1998. "Changes in Canadian Family Income and Family Consumption Inequality between 1978 and 1992," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(2), pages 259-83, June.
  22. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3106943 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Olivier Donni, 2001. "Collective Female Labor Supply: Theory and Application," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 141, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  24. 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.
  25. Shannon Seitz, 2009. "Accounting for Racial Differences in Marriage and Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 385-437, 07.
  26. Kenneth Train, 2003. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number emetr2, September.
  27. Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
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