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Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis


  • Christopher D. Carroll


This paper argues that the typical household's saving is better described by a "bufferstock" version than by the traditional version of the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis (LC/PIH) model. Buffer-stock behavior emerges if consumers with important income uncertainty are sufficiently impatient. In the traditional model, consumption growth is determined solely by tastes; in contrast, buffer-stock consumers set average consumption growth equal to average labor income growth, regardless of tastes. The model can explain three empirical puzzles: the [1991]; the the 1930's; and the temporal stability of the household age/wealth profile despite the unpredictability of idiosyncratic wealth changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher D. Carroll, 1996. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," NBER Working Papers 5788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5788
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Johansen, Soren & Juselius, Katarina, 1990. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation and Inference on Cointegration--With Applications to the Demand for Money," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 52(2), pages 169-210, May.
    2. Cheung, Yin-Wong & Lai, Kon S., 1993. "Long-run purchasing power parity during the recent float," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 181-192, February.
    3. Hakkio, Craig, 1986. "Does the exchange rate follow a random walk? A Monte Carlo study of four tests for a random walk," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 221-229, June.
    4. Pippenger, Michael K., 1993. "Cointegration tests of purchasing power parity: the case of Swiss exchange rates," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 46-61, February.
    5. Engle, Robert & Granger, Clive, 2015. "Co-integration and error correction: Representation, estimation, and testing," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 39(3), pages 106-135.
    6. Hsieh, David A., 1982. "The determination of the real exchange rate : The productivity approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3-4), pages 355-362, May.
    7. Mark, Nelson C., 1990. "Real and nominal exchange rates in the long run: An empirical investigation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1-2), pages 115-136, February.
    8. Johansen, Soren, 1991. "Estimation and Hypothesis Testing of Cointegration Vectors in Gaussian Vector Autoregressive Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1551-1580, November.
    9. Johansen, Soren, 1988. "Statistical analysis of cointegration vectors," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 12(2-3), pages 231-254.
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    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth


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