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Did the 2008 Tax Rebates Stimulate Spending?

  • Matthew D. Shapiro
  • Joel B. Slemrod

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14753.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14753.

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Date of creation: Feb 2009
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Publication status: published as Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2009. "Did the 2008 Tax Rebates Stimulate Spending?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 374-79, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14753
Note: EFG ME PE
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  1. Sumit Agarwal & Chunlin Liu & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2007. "The reaction of consumer spending and debt to tax rebates – evidence from consumer credit data," Working Paper Series WP-07-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Matthew D. Shapiro & Joel Slemrod, 2001. "Consumer Response to Tax Rebates," NBER Working Papers 8672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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 274-83, March.
  4. David S. Johnson & Jonathan A. Parker & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2004. "Household Expenditure and the Income Tax Rebates of 2001," Working Papers 136, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Discussion Papers in Economics..
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