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Intertemporal Choice and the Cross-Sectional Variance of Marginal Utility

  • Orazio P. Attanasio
  • Tullio Jappelli

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6560.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6560.

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Date of creation: May 1998
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Publication status: published as Attanasio, Orazio P. and Tullio Jappelli. "Intertemporal Choice And The Cross-Sectional Variance Of Marginal Utility," Review of Economics and Statistics, 2001, v83(1,Feb), 13-27.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6560
Note: EFG
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  1. Orazio P. Attanasio & Guglielmo Weber, 1994. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," NBER Working Papers 4795, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Deaton, Angus & Paxson, Christina, 1994. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(3), pages 437-67, June.
  3. Orazio P. Attanasio, 1993. "A Cohort Analysis of Saving Behavior by U.S. Households," NBER Working Papers 4454, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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 971-87, December.
  5. 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 360-99, April.
  6. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, March.
  7. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality And Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640, May.
  8. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1993. "Consumption Growth, the Interest Rate and Aggregation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 631-49, July.
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