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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. 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.
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  12. Mark C. Foley & William Pyle, 2005. "Household Savings in Russia during the Transition," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0522, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  13. Zimmerman, Frederick J. & Carter, Michael R., 2003. "Asset smoothing, consumption smoothing and the reproduction of inequality under risk and subsistence constraints," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 233-260, August.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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