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Earnings, consumption and lifecycle choices

  • Costas Meghir

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Yale University)

  • Luigi Pistaferri

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Stanford University)

We discuss recent developments in the literature that studies how the dynamics of earnings and wages affect consumption choices over the life cycle. We start by analyzing the theoretical impact of income changes on consumption - highlighting the role of persistence, information, size and insurability of changes in economic resources. We next examine the empirical contributions, distinguishing between papers that use only income data and those that use both income and consumption data. The latter do this for two purposes. First, one can make explicit assumptions about the structure of credit and insurance markets and identify the income process or the information set of the individuals. Second, one can assume that the income process or the amount of information that consumers have are known and tests the implications of the theory. In general there is an identification issue that is only recently being addressed, with better data or better "experiments". We conclude with a discussion of the literature that endogenize people's earnings and therefore change the nature of risk faced by households.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W10/05.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:10/05
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  1. Carroll, Christopher D., 2009. "Precautionary saving and the marginal propensity to consume out of permanent income," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 780-790, September.
  2. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2006. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," NBER Working Papers 12467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Geweke, John & Keane, Michael, 2000. "An empirical analysis of earnings dynamics among men in the PSID: 1968-1989," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 293-356, June.
  4. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura & Amir Yaron, 2010. "Sources of Lifetime Inequality," Working Papers 2011-020, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  5. Katja Kaufmann & Luigi Pistaferri, 2009. "Disentangling Insurance and Information in Intertemporal Consumption Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 387-92, May.
  6. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Agar Brugiavini, 1999. "Risk pooling, precautionary saving and consumption growth," IFS Working Papers W99/19, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Rajeev Dehejia & Thomas DeLeire & Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2005. "Insuring Consumption and Happiness Through Religious Organizations," NBER Working Papers 11576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating Uncertainty from Heterogeneity in Life Cycle Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11024, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "An empirical investigation of labor income processes," IFS Working Papers W07/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "How Much Consumption Insurance beyond Self-Insurance?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 53-87, October.
  11. Luigi Guiso & Luigi Pistaferri & Fabiano Schivardi, 2001. "Insurance within the Firm," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 414, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  12. Giorgio E. Primiceri & Thijs van Rens, 2006. "Heterogeneous life-cycle profiles, income risk and consumption inequality," Economics Working Papers 945, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Aug 2008.
  13. 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.
  14. Melvin Stephens, 2008. "The Consumption Response to Predictable Changes in Discretionary Income: Evidence from the Repayment of Vehicle Loans," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 241-252, May.
  15. 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.
  16. Huggett, Mark, 1996. "Wealth distribution in life-cycle economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 469-494, December.
  17. 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.
  18. Melvin Stephens, 2001. "The Long-Run Consumption Effects Of Earnings Shocks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 28-36, February.
  19. Fatih Guvenen, 2005. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," Macroeconomics 0507004, EconWPA.
  20. Orazio Attanasio & Nicola Pavoni, 2008. "Risk Sharing in Private Information Models with Asset Accumulation: Explaining the Excess Smoothness of Consumption," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 103, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  21. 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.
  22. Lisa A. Cameron & Christopher Worswick, 2003. "The Labor Market as a Smoothing Device: Labor Supply Responses to Crop Loss," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(2), pages 327-341, 05.
  23. Thomas, Duncan & Beegle, Kathleen & Frankenberg, Elizabeth & Sikoki, Bondan & Strauss, John & Teruel, Graciela, 2004. "Education in a crisis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 53-85, June.
  24. 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.
  25. Gorodnichenko, Yuriy & Peter, Klara Sabirianova & Stolyarov, Dmitriy, 2009. "Inequality and Volatility Moderation in Russia: Evidence from Micro-Level Panel Data on Consumption and Income," IZA Discussion Papers 4233, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  26. Virginia Sanchez-Marcos & Orazio Attanasio & Hamish Low, 2004. "Explaining Changes in Female Labour Supply in a Life-Cycle Model," 2004 Meeting Papers 492, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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