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Precautionary Strategies and Household Saving

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  • Joshua Aizenman
  • Eduardo Cavallo
  • Ilan Noy

Abstract

Why do people save? A strand of the literature has emphasized the role of ‘precautionary’ motives; i.e., private agents save in order to mitigate unexpected future income shocks. An implication is that in countries faced with more macroeconomic volatility and risk, private saving should be higher. From the observable data, however, we find a negative correlation between risk and private saving in cross-country comparisons, particularly in developing countries. We provide a plausible explanation for the disconnect between precautionary-saving theory and the empirical evidence that is based on a model with a richer account for the various modes of ‘precautionary’ behavior by private agents, in cases where institutions are weaker and labor informality is prevalent. In such environments, household saving decisions are intertwined with firms’ investment decisions. As a result, the interaction between saving behavior, broadly construed, and aggregate risk and uncertainty, may be more complex than is frequently assumed.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Aizenman & Eduardo Cavallo & Ilan Noy, 2015. "Precautionary Strategies and Household Saving," NBER Working Papers 21019, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21019
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:taf:houspd:v:27:y:2017:i:5:p:712-733 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Flavia Corneli, 2017. "Medium and long term implications of financial integration without financial development," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1120, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration

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