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'Risky Habits' and the Marginal Propensity to Consume Out of Permanent Income, or, How Much Would a Permanent Tax Cut Boost Japanese Consumption?


  • Christopher D. Carroll


Papers in variety of disparate literatures have recently suggested that habit formation in consumption may explain several empirical puzzles, ranging from the level and cyclical variability of the equity premium (Abel (1990,1999); Constantinides (1990); Jermann (1998); Campbell and Cochrane (1999)) to the excess smoothness' of aggregate consumption (Fuhrer (2000)) to the apparent fact that increases in economic growth cause subsequent increases in aggregate saving rates (Carroll and Weil (1994); Bosworth (1993); Attanasio, Picci, and Scorcu (2000); Rodrik (1999); Loayza, Schmidt-Hebbel, and Serv‚n (2000)). This paper examines an implication of these models that has mostly been overlooked: Habits strong enough to solve these puzzles imply an immediate marginal propensity to consume out of permanent shocks of much less than one. When the model is calibrated to roughly match the rise in the Japanese saving rate over the postwar period, it implies that the immediate MPC out of permanent tax cuts may be as low as 30 percent, suggesting that calls for permanent income tax cut as a quick means of stimulating aggregate demand in Japan may be misguided.

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  • Christopher D. Carroll, 2000. "'Risky Habits' and the Marginal Propensity to Consume Out of Permanent Income, or, How Much Would a Permanent Tax Cut Boost Japanese Consumption?," NBER Working Papers 7839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7839
    Note: ME PE

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Martin Sommer & Christopher Carroll, 2004. "Epidemiological expectations and consumption dynamics," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2003 92, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
    2. Shimizutani, Satoshi, 2006. "Consumer response to the 1998 tax cut: Is a temporary tax cut effective?," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 269-287, June.
    3. HORI Masahiro & SHIMIZUTANI Satoshi, 2002. "Micro Data Studies on Japanese Tax Policy and Consumption in the 1990s," ESRI Discussion paper series 014, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    4. Martin Sommer, 2001. "Sentiment Predictable Income and Habits in the Dynamics of Aggregate Consumption," Economics Working Paper Archive 458, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    5. Alvarez-Cuadrado, Francisco, 2008. "Growth outside the stable path: Lessons from the European reconstruction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 568-588, April.
    6. Martin Sommer, 2004. "Habits, Sentiment and Predictable Income in the Dynamics of Aggregate Consumption," Macroeconomics 0408004, EconWPA.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty


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