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The German Savings Puzzle

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  • Börsch-Supan, Axel
  • Reil-Held, Anette
  • Rodepeter, Ralf
  • Schnabel, Reinhold
  • Winter, Joachim

Abstract

Germany has one of the most generous public pension and health insurance systems of the world, yet private savings are high until old age. Savings remain positive in old age, even for most low income households. How can we explain what we might want to term the "German savings puzzle"? We provide a complicated answer that combines historical facts with capital market imperfections, housing, tax and pension policies. The first part of the paper describes how German households save, based on a synthetic panel of four cross sections of the German Income and Expenditure Survey ("Einkommens- und Verbrauchsstichproben") collected between 1978 and 1993. The second part links saving behavior with public policy, notably tax and pension policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Börsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 2000. "The German Savings Puzzle," Discussion Papers 594, Institut fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre und Statistik, Abteilung fuer Volkswirtschaftslehre.
  • Handle: RePEc:mnh:vpaper:1017
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    File URL: https://ub-madoc.bib.uni-mannheim.de/1017/1/594.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Borsch-Supan, Axel, 1992. "Saving and Consumption Patterns of the Elderly: The German Case," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 5(4), pages 289-303.
    2. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
    3. Luigi Guiso & Tullio Jappelli, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CSEF Working Papers 43, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    4. Walliser, Jan & Winter, Joachim, 1998. "Tax incentives, bequest motives and the demand for life insurance : evidence from Germany," Papers 99-28, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    5. Karen E. Dynan, 2000. "Habit Formation in Consumer Preferences: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 391-406, June.
    6. Axel Börsch-Supan & Anette Reil-Held & Ralf Rodepeter & Reinhold Schnabel & University of Mannheim & Germany, 2000. "Household Savings in Germany," Macroeconomics 0004053, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Borsch-Supan, Axel & Schnabel, Reinhold, 1998. "Social Security and Declining Labor-Force Participation in Germany," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 173-178, May.
    8. Cigno, Alessandro & Rosati, Furio C., 1996. "Jointly determined saving and fertility behaviour: Theory, and estimates for Germany, Italy, UK and USA," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1561-1589, November.
    9. 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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