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Money Illusion Matters for Consumption-Saving Decision-Making: An Experimental Investigation


  • Yasufumi Gemma

    (Associate Director, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan (Email:


By means of an economic experiment, this paper examines the effects of money illusion on consumption-saving decision-making. In the experiment, subjects make sequential consumption-saving decisions in economic situations where nominal values of economic variables are displayed differently but there is no difference in their real values in that an optimal real consumption path is the same. Nevertheless, the experimental results show that a nominal difference arising from a higher positive rate of inflation causes subjects to consume more in early periods of the experiment and less in later periods. Moreover, given the utility function assumed in the experiment and the estimated relationship between the slope of the consumption path and the inflation rate, such money illusion results in a higher level of utility for a subject who confronts a higher positive rate of inflation if the level of the inflation rate is modest. In deflationary situations, a nominal difference stemming from a lower negative rate of inflation generates a similar effect to that from a higher positive rate in terms of the consumption path. These findings suggest that in making consumption- saving decisions, subjects react to a rise of the inflation rate differently in inflationary situations and in deflationary situations, regardless of no change in the real interest rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Yasufumi Gemma, 2016. "Money Illusion Matters for Consumption-Saving Decision-Making: An Experimental Investigation," IMES Discussion Paper Series 16-E-06, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.
  • Handle: RePEc:ime:imedps:16-e-06

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Markus K. Brunnermeier & Christian Julliard, 2008. "Money Illusion and Housing Frenzies," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 21(1), pages 135-180, January.
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    3. Laibson, David, 1998. "Life-cycle consumption and hyperbolic discount functions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 861-871, May.
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    5. John D. Hey & Julia A. Knoll, 2018. "Strategies in dynamic decision making – An experimental investigation of the rationality of decision behaviour," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Experiments in Economics Decision Making and Markets, chapter 9, pages 223-233 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    6. Stephen Johnson & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & William Samuelson, 1987. "Can People Compute? An Experimental Test of the Life Cycle Consumption Model," NBER Working Papers 2183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-597.
    8. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
    9. Carbone, Enrica & Duffy, John, 2014. "Lifecycle consumption plans, social learning and external habits: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 413-427.
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    More about this item


    Consumption-saving decision-making; Money illusion; Economic experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • 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
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E40 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - General

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