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Saving Viewed from a Cross-National Perspective

  • Annamaria Lusardi

    (Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA))

Household saving is still little understood, and even the basic facts – for instance: How does saving change over the life cycle? Does saving turn negative in old age? – are controversial. Understanding saving behavior is not only an important question of economic theory because the division of income in consumption and saving concerns one of the most fundamental household decisions, but it is also of utmost policy relevance. One reason is that private household saving as a private insurance interacts with social policy as public insurance. Population ageing and its threat to the sustainability of the public insurance systems have put the spotlight back on own saving as a device for old-age provision. Solving the pension crises therefore requires understanding saving. Another reason is growth: capital accumulation through saving increases economic growth directly, and indirectly through changes in labor productivity. The topic of household savings is by no means uncharted territory. Recent comprehensive surveys of the work on saving include Deaton (1992), Browning and Lusardi (1996), and Attanasio (1999). These surveys illustrate the many challenges the theory faces in matching the empirical facts about saving as well as the need to use micro data to understand saving behavior. This volume adds a distinctive international dimension to these studies of saving. It presents the results of the "International Savings Comparison Project" – a project performed under the auspices of a European Union sponsored network of researchers.4 The main focus of this project is the interaction of household saving with public policy, notably the generosity of public pension systems. In this sense, our work is very much in the tradition of Feldstein’s (1974) seminal study. However, we transpose the inference from time series data to a set of international panel data drawn from six country studies. These studies analyze household saving in four European countries – Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – and in Japan and the United States.

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Paper provided by Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in its series MEA discussion paper series with number 02024.

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Date of creation: 12 Sep 2002
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Handle: RePEc:mea:meawpa:02024
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  10. Venti, Steven F & Wise, David A, 1998. "The Cause of Wealth Dispersion at Retirement: Choice or Chance?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 185-91, May.
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  22. Annamaria Lusardi & Jonathan Skinner & Steven F. Venti, 2001. "Saving Puzzles and Saving Policies in the United States," JCPR Working Papers 220, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  23. Tullio Jappelli & Franco Modigliani, 1998. "The Age-Saving Profile and the Life-Cycle Hypothesis," CSEF Working Papers 09, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  24. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1990. "But They Don't Want to Reduce Housing Equity," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Aging, pages 13-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Avery, Robert B & Kennickell, Arthur B, 1991. "Household Saving in the U.S," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(4), pages 409-32, December.
  26. Annamaria Lusardi, 2000. "Precautionary Saving and the Accumulation Of Wealth," JCPR Working Papers 204, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  27. Christopher D Carroll, 1990. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," Economics Working Paper Archive 371, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Aug 1996.
  28. Anette Reil-Held, 1999. "Bequests and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation in Germany," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 24(1), pages 50-63, January.
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