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Income Inequality and Saving

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  • Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco

    (McGill University)

  • El-Attar, Mayssun

    (McGill University)

Abstract

Over the last three decades, average income for the bottom half of the US distribution increased by 8% while their average saving rate decreased by eight percentage points. Over the same period the US experienced a substantial increase in inequality and a continuous decrease in the aggregate saving rate. We propose an explanation based on interpersonal comparisons consistent with these trends. When households care about their consumption relative to others, individual saving rates decrease with reference income while aggregate saving decreases with income inequality. We provide evidence from the PSID and a panel of OECD countries consistent with these predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco & El-Attar, Mayssun, 2012. "Income Inequality and Saving," IZA Discussion Papers 7083, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7083
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    14. Kai D. Schmid & Moritz Drechsel-Grau, 2013. "Habits and Envy: What Drives the Consumption Behavior of U.S. Households? Evidence from PSID, 1999-2009," IMK Working Paper 123-2013, IMK at the Hans Boeckler Foundation, Macroeconomic Policy Institute.
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    20. Chen, Yuanyuan & Yuan, Meng & Zhang, Min, 2023. "Income inequality and educational expenditures on children: Evidence from the China Family Panel Studies," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    relative consumption; income inequality; saving;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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