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The Joint Consumption/Asset Demand Decision: A Case Study in Robust Estimation

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  • Marjorie A. Flavin
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    The paper uses a previously unexploited data set -- the Michigan Survey of Consumer Finances -- to ask whether the finding that consumption tracks current income more closely than is consistent with the permanent income hypothesis can be attributed solely or partially to borrowing constraints. Using household data on income and asset stocks, the paper studies the saving side of the consumption/saving decision, and thus provides inferences on a comprehensive concept of consumption. To limit the influence of outliers, the paper uses a robust instrumental variables estimator, and argues that achieving robustness with respect to leverage points is actually simpler, both conceptually and computationally, in an instrumental variables context than in the OLS context. The results indicate that households do use asset stocks to smooth their consumption, although this smoothing is far from complete. However, there is no evidence that the excess sensitivity of consumption to current income is caused by borrowing constraints. Compared to the conventional results, the robust instrumental variables estimates are more stable across different subsamples, more consistent with the theoretical specification of the model, and indicate that some of the most striking findings in the conventional results were attributable to a single, highly unusual observation.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3802.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3802.

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    Date of creation: Aug 1991
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3802
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    1. 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.
    2. Hall, Robert E, 1978. "Stochastic Implications of the Life Cycle-Permanent Income Hypothesis: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 971-987, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1983. "Stochastic Consumption, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Asset Returns," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 249-265, April.
    5. Milton Friedman, 1957. "Introduction to "A Theory of the Consumption Function"," NBER Chapters,in: A Theory of the Consumption Function, pages 1-6 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Bewley, Truman, 1977. "The permanent income hypothesis: A theoretical formulation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 252-292, December.
    7. Stephen P. Zeldes, 1989. "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(2), pages 275-298.
    8. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-357, April.
    9. Fumio Hayashi, 1985. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis and Consumption Durability: Analysis Based on Japanese Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(4), pages 1083-1113.
    10. Hall, Robert E & Mishkin, Frederic S, 1982. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 461-481, March.
    11. Breeden, Douglas T., 1979. "An intertemporal asset pricing model with stochastic consumption and investment opportunities," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 265-296, September.
    12. Runkle, David E., 1991. "Liquidity constraints and the permanent-income hypothesis : Evidence from panel data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 73-98, February.
    13. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, October.
    14. Fumio Hayashi, 1985. "The Effect of Liquidity Constraints on Consumption: A Cross-Sectional Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(1), pages 183-206.
    15. Joseph G. Altonji & Aloysius Siow, 1987. "Testing the Response of Consumption to Income Changes with (Noisy) Panel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(2), pages 293-328.
    16. Peter M. Garber & Robert G. King, 1983. "Deep Structral Excavation? A Critique of Euler Equation Methods," NBER Technical Working Papers 0031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Hayashi, Fumio, 1982. "The Permanent Income Hypothesis: Estimation and Testing by Instrumental Variables," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 895-916, October.
    18. Hansen, Lars Peter & Singleton, Kenneth J, 1982. "Generalized Instrumental Variables Estimation of Nonlinear Rational Expectations Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1269-1286, September.
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