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Changes in Consumption and Activities in Retirement

Author

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  • Michael D. Hurd

    (RAND and NBER)

  • Susann Rohwedder

    (RAND)

Abstract

The simple one-good model of life-cycle consumption requires “consumption smoothing.” According to previous results based on partial spending and on synthetic panels, British and U.S. households apparently reduce consumption at retirement. The reduction cannot be explained by the simple one-good life-cycle model, so it has been referred to as the retirement-consumption puzzle. An interpretation is that at retirement individuals discover they have fewer economic resources than they had anticipated prior to retirement, and as a consequence reduce consumption. This interpretation challenges the life-cycle model where consumers are assumed to be forward looking. Using panel data on anticipated consumption changes at retirement and on recollected consumption changes following retirement, we find that the median recollected change in spending at retirement is zero and that the recollections are broadly consistent with anticipations. Based on a measure of total spending in true panel we find that the actual mean and median changes are slightly positive. Therefore, we find no retirement-consumption puzzle.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Hurd & Susann Rohwedder, 2005. "Changes in Consumption and Activities in Retirement," Working Papers wp096, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp096
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Tanner, Sarah, 1998. "Is There a Retirement-Savings Puzzle?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 769-788, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Susann Rohwedder, 2006. "Self-Assessed Retirement Outcomes: Determinants and Pathways," Working Papers wp141, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    2. Aylit Tina Romm, 2012. "Retirement Date Effects on Pre-Retirement Wealth Accumulation: An Analysis of US Households," Working Papers 266, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    3. Melanie Lührmann, 2010. "Consumer Expenditures and Home Production at Retirement - New Evidence from Germany," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11, pages 225-245, May.
    4. van Rooij, Maarten C.J. & Kool, Clemens J.M. & Prast, Henriette M., 2007. "Risk-return preferences in the pension domain: Are people able to choose?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 701-722, April.
    5. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Melanie Lührmann, 2016. "Durable Purchases over the Later Life Cycle," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 78(2), pages 145-169, April.
    6. Eva Sierminska & Yelena Takhtamanova, 2008. "The Effect of Wealth on Consumption Expenditures: Cross Country and Cross Socio-Demographic Group Comparisons," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 20.
    7. Aylit Romm, 2015. "The Effect of Retirement Date Expectations on Pre-retirement Wealth Accumulation: The Role of Gender and Bargaining Power in Married US Households," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 36(4), pages 593-605, December.
    8. Eva Sierminska & Yelena Takhtamanova, 2007. "Wealth effects out of financial and housing wealth: cross country and age group comparisons," Working Paper Series 2007-01, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    9. Rogerson, Richard & Wallenius, Johanna, 2016. "Retirement, home production and labor supply elasticities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 23-34.
    10. Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald & Doug Andrews & Robert L. Brown, 2011. "The Canadian Elder Standard - Pricing the Cost of Basic Needs for the Canadian Elderly," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 286, McMaster University.
    11. Ciani, Emanuele, 2016. "Retirement, pension eligibility and home production," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 106-120.
    12. Eva Sierminska & Yelena Takhtamanova, 2006. "Wealth Effects Out of Financial and Housing Wealth: Cross Country and Age Group Comparisons," LWS Working papers 4, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    13. Laitner, John & Silverman, Dan, 2012. "Consumption, retirement and social security: Evaluating the efficiency of reform that encourages longer careers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(7-8), pages 615-634.
    14. José M. Labeaga & Rubén Osuna, 2007. "Expenditures at retirement by Spanish households," Working Papers 2007-36, FEDEA.
    15. Päivi Kankaanranta, 2006. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle: A Selected Literature Review," Discussion Papers 7, Aboa Centre for Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies

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