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Why Aren't Developed Countries Saving?

Author

Listed:
  • Loretti I. Dobrescu
  • Laurence J. Kotlikoff
  • Alberto F. Motta

Abstract

National saving rates differ enormously across developed countries. But these differences obscure a common trend, namely a dramatic decline over time. France and Italy, for example, saved over 17 percent of national income in 1970, but less than 7 percent in 2006. Japan saved 30 percent in 1970, but only 8 percent in 2006. And the U.S. saved 9 percent in 1970, but only 2 percent in 2006. What explains these international and intertemporal differences? Is it demographics, government spending, productivity growth or preferences? Our answer is preferences. Developed societies are placing increasing weight on the welfare of those currently alive, particularly contemporaneous older generations. This conclusion emerges from estimating two models in which society makes consumption and labor supply decisions in light of uncertainty over future government spending, productivity, and social preferences. The two models differ in terms of the nature of preference uncertainty and the extent to which current society can control future societies' spending and labor supply decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Loretti I. Dobrescu & Laurence J. Kotlikoff & Alberto F. Motta, 2008. "Why Aren't Developed Countries Saving?," NBER Working Papers 14580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14580
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hans Fehr & Sabine Jokisch & Laurence J Kotlikoff, 2006. "Will China Eat Our Lunch or Take Us to Dinner? Simulating the Transition Paths of the US, EU, Japan and China," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: Christopher Kent & Anna Park & Daniel Rees (ed.), Demography and Financial Markets Reserve Bank of Australia.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Why aren't developed countries saving?
      by UDADISI in UDADISI on 2012-08-02 06:09:00
    2. [経済]先進国の貯蓄率の低下は刹那主義の蔓延のせい?
      by himaginary in himaginaryの日記 on 2012-08-03 12:00:00
    3. The Best 10 Economics Papers of 2012
      by UDADISI in UDADISI on 2012-12-14 04:44:00

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Carbone, Enrica & Duffy, John, 2014. "Lifecycle consumption plans, social learning and external habits: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 413-427.
    2. János Vincze & Gergely Varga, 2015. "Ants and crickets: arbitrary saving rates in an agent-based model with infinitely lived-agents," IEHAS Discussion Papers 1504, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
    3. Bucciol, Alessandro & Veronesi, Marcella, 2014. "Teaching children to save: What is the best strategy for lifetime savings?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 1-17.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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