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IRAs and Household Saving Revisited: Some New Evidence

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  • Orazio P. Attanasio
  • Thomas C. DeLeire

Abstract

The effectiveness of tax-favored savings accounts in raising national savings depends crucially upon the willingness of households to reduce consumption in order to finance contributions to these accounts. The debate over the tax deductibility of IRA's has centered on whether IRA contributions represented new savings or reshuffled assets. We devise a test to distinguish between these two hypotheses where we compare the behavior of households which just opened an IRA account with that of households which already had an IRA account. Our test accounts for any unobservable heterogeneity across the two groups. We find evidence that supports the view that households financed their IRA contributions primarily through reductions in their stocks of other assets. Our results indicate that less than 20% of IRA contributions represented addition to national savings.

Suggested Citation

  • Orazio P. Attanasio & Thomas C. DeLeire, 1994. "IRAs and Household Saving Revisited: Some New Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4900, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4900
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gale, William G & Scholz, John Karl, 1994. "IRAs and Household Saving," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1233-1260, December.
    2. Bovenberg, A. Lans, 1989. "Tax Policy and National Saving in the United States: A Survey," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 42(2), pages 123-38, June.
    3. Kotlikoff, Laurence J., 1990. "The Crisis in U.S. Saving and Proposals to Address the Crisis," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 43(3), pages 233-246, September.
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    5. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1986. "Tax-Deferred Accounts, Constrained Choice and Estimation of Individual Saving," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(4), pages 579-601.
    6. Bovenberg, A. Lans, 1989. "Tax Policy and National Saving in the United States: A Survey," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 42(2), pages 123-138, June.
    7. Jane G. Gravelle, 1991. "Do Individual Retirement Accounts Increase Savings?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 133-148, Spring.
    8. Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1987. "IRAs and Saving," NBER Chapters,in: The Effects of Taxation on Capital Accumulation, pages 7-52 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Burman, Leonard E. & Cordes, Joseph J. & Ozanne, Larry, 1990. "IRAs and National Savings," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 43(3), pages 259-283, September.
    10. Bovenberg, A.L., 1989. "Tax policy and national savings in the United States : A survey," Other publications TiSEM 279a30b7-c4fe-45ac-b81a-e, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    11. Burman, Leonard E. & Cordes, Joseph J. & Ozanne, Larry, 1990. "IRAs and National Savings," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 43(3), pages 259-83, September.
    12. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1994. "Do Saving Incentives Work?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(1), pages 85-180.
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    Cited by:

    1. Börsch-Supan, Axel, 2002. "What We Know and What We Do NOT Know," MEA discussion paper series 02017, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    2. A Börsch-Supan & A Brugiavini, 2001. "Savings: the policy debate in Europe," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 116-143, Spring.
    3. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 1996. "How Retirement Saving Programs Increase Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 91-112, Fall.
    4. Börsch-Supan, Axel, 2004. "Mind the Gap: The Effectiveness of Incentives to boost Retirement Saving in Europe," MEA discussion paper series 04052, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    5. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Illusory Effects of Saving Incentives on Saving," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 113-138, Fall.
    6. R. Glenn Hubbard & Jonathan S. Skinner, 1996. "Assessing the Effectiveness of Saving Incentives," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 73-90, Fall.
    7. Eric M. Engen & William G. Gale & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Effects of Tax-Based Saving Incentives On Saving and Wealth," NBER Working Papers 5759, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Mariacristina Rossi, 2009. "Examining the Interaction between Saving and Contributions to Personal Pension Plans: Evidence from the BHPS," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 71(2), pages 253-271, April.
    9. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti, 1998. "Personal Retirement Saving Programs and Asset Accumulation: Reconciling the Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: Frontiers in the Economics of Aging, pages 23-124 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Bernheim, B. Douglas, 2002. "Taxation and saving," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 18, pages 1173-1249 Elsevier.
    11. Attanasio, Orazio P. & Paiella, Monica, 2001. "Households savings in the U.S.A," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 109-132, March.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

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