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Precautionary Savings and the Importance of Business Owners

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  • Erik Hurst
  • Arthur Kennickell
  • Annamaria Lusardi
  • Francisco Torralba

Abstract

In this paper, we show the pivotal role business owners play in estimating the importance of the precautionary saving motive. Since business owners hold larger amounts of wealth than other households for non-precautionary reasons and also face highly volatile income, they induce a correlation between wealth and income risk regardless of whether or not a precautionary saving motive exists. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics in the 1980s and the 1990s, we show that among both business owners and non-business owners, the size of precautionary savings with respect to labor income risk is modest and accounts for less than ten percent of total household wealth. However, pooling together the two groups leads to an artificially high estimate of the importance of precautionary savings. New data from the Survey of Consumer Finances further confirms that precautionary savings account for less than ten percent of total wealth for both business owners and non-business owners. Thus, while a precautionary saving motive exists and affects all households, it does not give rise to high amounts of wealth in the economy, particularly among those households who face the most volatile stream of income.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Hurst & Arthur Kennickell & Annamaria Lusardi & Francisco Torralba, 2005. "Precautionary Savings and the Importance of Business Owners," NBER Working Papers 11731, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11731
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Luc Arrondel & Hector Calvo Pardo, 2008. "Les Français sont-ils prudents ? Patrimoine et risque sur les revenus des ménages," Working Papers halshs-00585994, HAL.
    2. Camilo Mondragón-Vélez & Ximena Peña, 2010. "Business Ownership and Self-Employment in Developing Economies: The Colombian Case," NBER Chapters,in: International Differences in Entrepreneurship, pages 89-127 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2007. "Baby Boomer retirement security: The roles of planning, financial literacy, and housing wealth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 205-224, January.
    4. Tullio Jappelli & Mario Padula & Luigi Pistaferri, 2008. "A Direct Test of The Buffer-Stock Model of Saving," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(6), pages 1186-1210, December.
    5. Carroll, Christopher D. & Kimball, Miles S., 2006. "Precautionary Saving and Precautionary Wealth," CFS Working Paper Series 2006/02, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    6. Clovis Kerdrain & Isabell Koske & Isabelle Wanner, 2010. "The Impact of Structural Policies on Saving, Investment and Current Accounts," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 815, OECD Publishing.
    7. Clovis Kerdrain & Isabell Koske & Isabelle Wanner, 2011. "Current Account Imbalances: can Structural Reforms Help to Reduce Them?," OECD Journal: Economic Studies, OECD Publishing, vol. 2011(1), pages 1-44.
    8. repec:pab:rmcpee:v:24:y:2018:i:1:p:292-339 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Luc Arrondel & Hector Calvo Pardo, 2008. "Les Français sont-ils prudents ? Patrimoine et risque sur les revenus des ménages," PSE Working Papers halshs-00585994, HAL.
    10. Marco Percoco, 2015. "Homeownership and saving preferences: evidence from Italy," Letters in Spatial and Resource Sciences, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 141-149, July.
    11. Schunk Daniel, 2009. "What Determines Household Saving Behavior: An Examination of Saving Motives and Saving Decisions 06.01.2009," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 229(4), pages 467-491, August.

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    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment

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