Does the Consumption of Different Age Groups Move Together? A New Nonparametric Test of Intergenerational Altruism
In recent years Robert Barro's (1974) ingenious model of inter- generational altruism has taken its place among the major theories of consumption and saving. Despite its policy importance, there have been few direct tests of the Barro model. This paper presents a new direct test that is based on a property of the Barro model that, to our knowledge, has not previously been exploited. This property is that the Euler errors (i.e., disturbances in the Euler equations) of altruistically linked members of Barro extended families (clans) are identical. Under time-separable, homothetic utility, this equality of Euler errors means that, controlling for clan preferences about the age distribution of consumption, the percentage changes over time in consumption of all Barro clan members are equal. With some weak additional assumptions, this proposition implies that the average percentage change in household consumption within an age cohort should be the same for all age cohorts. Testing the Barro model by comparing average percentage changes in consumption across age cohorts is particularly advantageous because it is nonparametric; in determining whether the average consumptions of different age cohorts move together we place no restrictions on preferences beyond the assumptions of homotheticity and time separability. In particular, each Barro clan can have quite different preference parameters. The new quarterly Consumer Expenditure Surveys (CES) covering 1980 through the first quarter of 1985 are an excellent data set for determining whether the consumption of different age groups moves together. The CES records the consumption of each sample household for up to four quarters, and thus can be used to determine the average quarterly percentage change in consumption of households in a given age group. The null hypothesis of our test is that cohort differences in the average percentage change in consumption are due simply to sampling and measurement error. Alternative hypotheses, suggested by the Life Cycle Model, are that (1) the percentage changes in the average consumptions of any two cohorts are more highly correlated the closer in age are the two cohorts, and (2) the variance in the percentage change in consumption is a monotone function of the age of the cohort. The data fail to reject the null hypothesis of equal Euler errors. Indeed, the results provide fairly strong support for the intergenerational altruism model as opposed to the Life Cycle Model.
|Date of creation:||Jan 1988|
|Publication status:||published as "Intergenerational Altruism and the Effectiveness of Fiscal Policy- New Tests Based on Cohort Data", in Toshiaki Tachibanaki, ed., Savings and Bequests, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press: 1994), pp. 167-196|
|Note:||EFG ME PE|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Shapiro, Matthew D., 1984. "The permanent income hypothesis and the real interest rate : Some evidence from panel data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 93-100.
- Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989.
"Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-346, April.
- Stephen Zeldes, "undated". "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 24-85, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
- Stephen P. Zeldes, "undated". "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 16-88, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
- Barro, Robert J, 1974.
"Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
- Barro, Robert J., 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Scholarly Articles 3451399, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Feldstein, Martin & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Social security," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 32, pages 2245-2324 Elsevier.
- Alan J. Auerbach & Laurence J. Kotlikoff, 1981. "An Examination of Empirical Tests of Social Security and Savings," NBER Working Papers 0730, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Aschauer, David Alan, 1985. "Fiscal Policy and Aggregate Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 117-127, March.
- Bernheim, B Douglas & Bagwell, Kyle, 1988. "Is Everything Neutral?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 308-338, April.
- Williamson, Samuel H & Jones, Warren L, 1983. "Computing the Impact of Social Security Using the Life Cycle Consumption Function," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1036-1052, December.
- West, Kenneth D., 1988. "The insensitivity of consumption to news about income," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 17-33, January.
- Kenneth D. West, 1987. "The Insensitivity of Consumption to News About Income," NBER Working Papers 2252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Feldstein, Martin S, 1974. "Social Security, Induced Retirement, and Aggregate Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(5), pages 905-926, Sept./Oct.
- N. Gregory Mankiw & Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "Intertemporal Substitution in Macroeconomics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(1), pages 225-251.
- Miron, Jeffrey A, 1986. "Seasonal Fluctuations and the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Model of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(6), pages 1258-1279, December.
- Jeffrey A. Miron, 1986. "Seasonal Fluctuations and the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Model of Consumption," NBER Working Papers 1845, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kormendi, Roger C, 1983. "Government Debt, Government Spending, and Private Sector Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 994-1010, December.
- Boskin, Michael J. & Kotlikoff, Laurence J., 1985. "Public debt and United States saving: A new test of the neutrality hypothesis," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 55-86, January.
- Flavin, Marjorie A, 1981. "The Adjustment of Consumption to Changing Expectations about Future Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 974-1009, October. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2490. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.