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Commitment, Risk, and Consumption: Do Birds of a Feather Have Bigger Nests?

  • Stephen H. Shore
  • Todd Sinai

We show that incorporating consumption commitments into a standard model of precautionary saving can complicate the usual relationship between risk and consumption. In particular, we present a model where the presence of plausible adjustment costs can cause a mean-preserving increase in unemployment risk to lead to increased consumption. The predictions of this model are consistent with empirical evidence from dual-earning couples. Couples who share an occupation face increased risk as their unemployment shocks are more highly correlated. Such couples spend more on owner-occupied housing than other couples, spend no more on rent, and are more likely to rent than own. This pattern is strongest when the household faces higher moving costs, or when unemployment insurance provides a less generous safety net.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11588.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11588.

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Date of creation: Aug 2005
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Publication status: published as 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, 07.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11588
Note: EFG LS PE
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  18. Robst, John & Deitz, Richard & McGoldrick, KimMarie, 1999. "Income variability, uncertainty and housing tenure choice1," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 219-229, March.
  19. Todd Sinai & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2005. "Owner-Occupied Housing as a Hedge Against Rent Risk," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 763-789.
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