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Shocks, Stocks and Socks

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  • Martin Browning
  • Thomas Crossley

Abstract

Recent research has demonstrated that some households cut back on expenditures in an unemployment spell. Moreover, some of these households respond to variation in the transitory income provided by unemployment insurance benefits. This suggests that these households are constrained in the sense that they respond to variations in current income even if these do not have any permanent impact. In this paper we take up the question of how households in temporarily straitened circumstances cut back and how they spend marginal dollars of transfer income. Our theoretical and empirical analysis emphasises the importance of allowing for the fact that households buy durable as well as non-durable goods. The theoretical analysis shows that in the short run households can significantly cut back on total expenditures without a significant fall in welfare if they concentrate their budget reductions on durables. We present an empirical analysis based on a Canadian survey of workers who experienced a job separation. Exploiting changes in the unemployment insurance system over our sample period we show that cuts in UI benefits lead to reductions in total expenditure with a stronger impact on clothing than on food expenditures. These effects are particularly strong for households with no liquid assets and/or households in which the lost income was ‘important’ for the household. These findings are in precise agreement with the theoretical predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Browning & Thomas Crossley, 2003. "Shocks, Stocks and Socks," Department of Economics Working Papers 2003-07, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2003-07
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    File URL: http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/econ/rsrch/papers/archive/2003-07.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Guglielmo Weber, 2003. "Asking consumption questions in general purpose surveys," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(491), pages 540-567, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Guglielmo Weber, 2003. "Asking consumption questions in general purpose surveys," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(491), pages 540-567, November.
    2. Orazio P. Attanasio & Nicola Pavoni, 2011. "Risk Sharing in Private Information Models With Asset Accumulation: Explaining the Excess Smoothness of Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1027-1068, July.
    3. 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.
    4. Browning, Martin & Crossley, Thomas F., 2008. "The long-run cost of job loss as measured by consumption changes," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 145(1-2), pages 109-120, July.
    5. Thomas Crossley & Hamish Low, 2004. "When Might Unemployment Insurance Matter?," Department of Economics Working Papers 2004-04, McMaster University.
    6. Peter Kuhn & Peter Kooreman & Adriaan Soetevent & Arie Kapteyn, 2011. "The Effects of Lottery Prizes on Winners and Their Neighbors: Evidence from the Dutch Postcode Lottery," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2226-2247, August.
    7. Thomas F. Crossley & Hamish W. Low, 2014. "Job Loss, Credit Constraints, and Consumption Growth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(5), pages 876-884, December.
    8. Burcu Duygan, 2005. "Aggregate Shocks, Idiosyncratic Risk, and Durable Goods Purchases: Evidence from Turkeys 1994 Financial Crisis," 2005 Meeting Papers 594, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Cristina Barceló & Ernesto Villanueva, 2010. "The response of household wealth to the risk of losing the job: evidence from differences in firing costs," Working Papers 1002, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    10. José Casado, 2011. "From income to consumption: measuring households partial insurance," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 471-495, April.
    11. Stephen H. Shore & Todd Sinai, 2010. "Commitment, Risk, and Consumption: Do Birds of a Feather Have Bigger Nests?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 408-424, May.
    12. Peter J. Kuhn & Peter Kooreman & Adriaan R. Soetevent & Arie Kapteyn, 2008. "The Own and Social Effects of an Unexpected Income Shock: Evidence from the Dutch Postcode Lottery," NBER Working Papers 14035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Blundell, Richard William & Pistaferri, Luigi & Preston, Ian, 2002. "Partial Insurance, Information, and Consumption Dynamics," CEPR Discussion Papers 3666, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Pushan Dutt & V. Padmanabhan, 2011. "Crisis and Consumption Smoothing," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(3), pages 491-512, 05-06.
    15. Benjamin J. Keys, 2010. "The credit market consequences of job displacement," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2010-24, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    16. Peter J. Kuhn & Peter Kooreman & Adriaan R. Soetevent & Arie Kapteyn, 2008. "The Own and Social Effects of an Unexpected Income Shock: Evidence from the Dutch Postcode Lottery," NBER Working Papers 14035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Timothy K. M. Beatty & Laura Blow & Thomas F. Crossley, 2014. "Is there a ‘heat-or-eat’ trade-off in the UK?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 177(1), pages 281-294, January.
    18. Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2011. "The Effects of the Financial Crisis on Actual and Anticipated Consumption," Working Papers wp255, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    19. Raj Chetty, 2004. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance When Income Effects are Large," NBER Working Papers 10500, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Qiang Zhang & Sung Jin Kang, 2007. "Crisis and Consumption Smoothing," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 8(1), pages 137-154, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • 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
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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