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Did the 2008 Tax Rebates Stimulate Spending?

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  • Matthew D. Shapiro
  • Joel B. Slemrod

Abstract

Only one-fifth of respondents to a rider on the University of Michigan Survey Research Center's Monthly Survey said that the 2008 tax rebates would lead them to mostly increase spending. Almost half said the rebate would mostly lead them to pay off debt, while about a third saying it would lead them mostly to save more. The survey responses imply that the aggregate propensity to spend from the rebate was about one-third, and that there would not be substantially more spending as a lagged effect of the rebates. Because of the low spending propensity, the rebates in 2008 provided low "bang for the buck" as economic stimulus. Putting cash into the hands of the consumers who use it to save or pay off debt boosts their well-being, but it does not necessarily make them spend. Low-income individuals were particularly likely to use the rebate to pay off debt.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel B. Slemrod, 2009. "Did the 2008 Tax Rebates Stimulate Spending?," NBER Working Papers 14753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14753
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nicholas S. Souleles & Jonathan A. Parker & David S. Johnson, 2006. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1589-1610, December.
    2. Sumit Agarwal & Chunlin Liu & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2007. "The Reaction of Consumer Spending and Debt to Tax Rebates-Evidence from Consumer Credit Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(6), pages 986-1019, December.
    3. Shapiro, Matthew D & Slemrod, Joel, 1995. "Consumer Response to the Timing of Income: Evidence from a Change in Tax Withholding," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 274-283, March.
    4. Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2003. "Consumer Response to Tax Rebates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 381-396, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household

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