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Consumption, Commitmants and Preferences for Risk

  • Andrew Postlewaite
  • Larry Samuelson
  • Dan Silverman

We examine an economy in which the cost of consuming some goods can be reduced by making commitments to consumption levels independent of the state. For example, it is cheaper to produce housing services via owner-occupied than rented housing, but the transactions costs associated with the former prompt relatively inflexible housing consumption paths. We show that consumption commitments can cause risk-neutral consumers to care about risk, creating incentives to both insure risks and bunch uninsured risks together. For example, workers may prefer to avoid wage risk while bearing an unemployment risk that is concentrated in as few states as possible.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10527.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10527.

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Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10527
Note: EFG LS
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  1. Adam Szeidl & Raj Chetty, 2004. "Consumption Commitments and Asset Prices," 2004 Meeting Papers 354, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Ellingsen, Tore & Holden, Steinar, 1995. "Sticky Consumption and Rigid Wages," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 62, Stockholm School of Economics.
  3. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
  4. Akerlof, George A & Miyazaki, Hajime, 1980. "The Implicit Contract Theory of Unemployment Meets the Wage Bill Argument," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(2), pages 321-38, January.
  5. Baily, Martin Neil, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50, January.
  6. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Mirman, Leonard J, 1981. "Constant, Increasing and Decreasing Risk Aversion with Many Commodities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 271-80, April.
  7. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1969. "Real Wages, Employment, and Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 721-54, Sept./Oct.
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