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Life-cycle consumption: can single agent models get it right?

  • Bick, Alexander
  • Choi, Sekyu
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    In the quantitative macroeconomics literature, single agent models are widely used to explain ``per-adult equivalent'' data, which are obtained at the household level. In this paper we suggest a simple framework to understand the sources of bias when these models are used to make predictions for aggregate consumption. In both a theoretical and a quantitative exercise, we find that economies of scale in consumption inside the household are positively related to the bias introduced by the single agent approach in predicted consumption profiles over the life-cycle. We also do an external validation exercise, which suggests that economies of scale inside the household are rather large, pointing out the need to approach life-cycle consumption with models that consider households rather than single agents.

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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/30910/5/MPRA_paper_30910.pdf
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    Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 30910.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:30910
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    1. repec:adr:anecst:y:1993:i:29:p:03 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris I. Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2000. "Consumption and Risk Sharing Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7995, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    4. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2008. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," NBER Working Papers 14052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    8. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2006. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory -super-1," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(1), pages 163-193.
    9. Lazear, Edward P & Michael, Robert T, 1980. "Family Size and the Distribution of Real Per Capita Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(1), pages 91-107, March.
    10. Karen A. Kopecky & Richard M. H. Suen, 2009. "Finite State Markov-Chain Approximations to Highly Persistent Processes," Working Papers 200904, University of California at Riverside, Department of Economics, revised May 2009.
    11. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "How Much Consumption Insurance Beyond Self-Insurance?," NBER Working Papers 15553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Orazio P. Attanasio & James Banks & Costas Meghir & Guglielmo Weber, 1995. "Humps and Bumps in Lifetime Consumption," NBER Working Papers 5350, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Luis Cubeddu & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2003. "Families As Shocks," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 671-682, 04/05.
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