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Managing risks: what Russian households do to smooth consumption?

  • Notten, Geranda
  • Neubourg, Chris de

The increasing availability of rich (panel) data provides many opportunities to test theories on consumption smoothing behaviour. At the same time, the informational requirements in terms of data and modelling are high and very context specific, thus requiring a filtering of essential explanatory ingredients. In this paper we show how conceptual and exploratory empirical analysis can contribute to this filtering process. We develop a conceptual framework to analyze possible smoothing arrangements of households distinguishing between various smoothing mechanisms, institutional smoothing partners and required assets. Subsequently, we apply this framework to Russian survey data to explore how Russian households may smooth consumption. We select and analyze a broad set of indicators from household survey data to study what actions Russian households take and how these actions reflect the existence and prevalence of particular smoothing channels. The results can be used to formulate hypotheses on household smoothing behaviour and to delineate the features of a more rigorous analysis. The picture that emerges is one in which financial markets play a limited role as a smoothing channel in Russia, regardless of the smoothing mechanism used (saving, lending, insurance). Instead, households seem to use internal strategies, their family, social networks and the state to smooth consumption through capital accumulation, gift giving, the provision of loans and (pension) benefits. Furthermore, we find some evidence that old age pensions may be used for intergenerational risk-sharing within families while other findings point towards the use of household food production as an income smoothing strategy as opposed to a shock-response strategy.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 4670.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:4670
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  1. Alessandra Guariglia & Byung-Yeon Kim, 2003. "Wage arrears uncertainty and precautionary saving in Russia," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 11(3), pages 493-512, 09.
  2. Pierre Dubois & Bruno Jullien & Thierry Magnac, 2008. "Formal and Informal Risk Sharing in LDCs: Theory and Empirical Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 2184, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Frederic Zimmerman & MICHAEL R. CARTER, . "Asset Smoothing, Consumption Smoothing and the Reproduction for Inequality under Risk and Subsistence Constraints," Wisconsin-Madison Agricultural and Applied Economics Staff Papers 402, Wisconsin-Madison Agricultural and Applied Economics Department.
  4. Alessie, Rob & Lusardi, Annamaria, 1997. "Saving and income smoothing: Evidence from panel data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(7), pages 1251-1279, July.
  5. Lokshin, Michael M. & Yemtsov, Ruslan, 2001. "Household strategies for coping with poverty and social exclusion in post-crisis Russia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2556, The World Bank.
  6. Kazianga, H., 2006. "Motives for household private transfers in Burkina Faso," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 73-117, February.
  7. Jonathan Morduch, 1995. "Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1727, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Udry, Christopher, 1995. "Risk and Saving in Northern Nigeria," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1287-1300, December.
  9. Stefan Dercon, 1996. "Wealth, risk and activity choices: cattle in Western Tanzania," CSAE Working Paper Series 1996-08, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  10. Eswaran, Mukesh & Kotwal, Ashok, 1989. "Credit as insurance in agrarian economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 37-53, July.
  11. Christopher Udry, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526.
  12. Ethan Ligon, 1998. "Risk Sharing and Information in Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(4), pages 847-864.
  13. McKenzie, David J., 2003. "How do Households Cope with Aggregate Shocks? Evidence from the Mexican Peso Crisis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 1179-1199, July.
  14. Kochar, Anjini, 2004. "Ill-health, savings and portfolio choices in developing economies," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 257-285, February.
  15. Mark C. Foley & William Pyle, 2005. "Household Savings in Russia during the Transition," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0522, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  16. Reuben Gronau, 2006. "Home Production and the Macro Economy-Some Lessons from Pollak and Wachter and from Transition Russia," NBER Working Papers 12287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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