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Intertemporal Choice and the Cross-Sectional Variance of Marginal Utility

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  • Orazio P. Attanasio
  • Tullio Jappelli

Abstract

The theory of intertemporal choice predicts that the cross-sectional variance of the marginal utility of consumption is equal to its own lag plus a constant and a random component. Using general preference specifications and some assumptions about the nature of the random component, we provide an explicit test of this hypothesis. Our approach circumvents the necessity to identify a pure age profile of the cross-sectional variance of consumption and yields a well-specified statistical test. This test is applied to data from the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy. The results are remarkably consistent with the restrictions implied by the theory of intertemporal consumption choices.

Suggested Citation

  • Orazio P. Attanasio & Tullio Jappelli, 1998. "Intertemporal Choice and the Cross-Sectional Variance of Marginal Utility," NBER Working Papers 6560, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6560
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1995. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1121-1157, December.
    3. Hubbard, R Glenn & Skinner, Jonathan & Zeldes, Stephen P, 1995. "Precautionary Saving and Social Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(2), pages 360-399, April.
    4. Orazio P. Attanasio & Guglielmo Weber, 1993. "Consumption Growth, the Interest Rate and Aggregation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 631-649.
    5. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality and Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640.
    6. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-467, June.
    7. Orazio P. Attanasio, 1998. "Cohort Analysis of Saving Behavior by U.S. Households," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(3), pages 575-609.
    8. Orazio P. Attanasio, 1993. "A Cohort Analysis of Saving Behavior by U.S. Households," NBER Working Papers 4454, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244.
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    Cited by:

    1. Orazio P. Attanasio & Nicola Pavoni, 2011. "Risk Sharing in Private Information Models With Asset Accumulation: Explaining the Excess Smoothness of Consumption," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1027-1068, July.
    2. Attanasio, Orazio P. & Szekely, Miguel, 2004. "Wage shocks and consumption variability in Mexico during the 1990s," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 1-25, February.
    3. Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2006. "Intertemporal Choice and Consumption Mobility," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 75-115, March.
    4. Miguel Székely & Orazio P. Attanasio, 2001. "Sacudidas salariales y variabilidad del consumo en México durante los años 90," Research Department Publications 4266, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    5. Herrala, Risto, 2010. "Credit constraints and durable consumption : A new empirical approach," Research Discussion Papers 15/2010, Bank of Finland.
    6. Etheridge, Ben, 2015. "A test of the household income process using consumption and wealth data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 129-157.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth

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