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Consumption over the Life Cycle: Some Facts from Consumer Expenditure Survey Data

  • Dirk Krueger
  • Jesus Fernandez-Villaverde

This paper uses a seminonparametric model and Consumer Expenditure Survey data to estimate life cycle profiles of consumption, controlling for demographics, cohort and time effects. In addition to documenting profiles for total and nondurable consumption, we devote special attention to the age expenditure pattern for consumer durables. We find hump-shaped paths over the life cycle for total, for nondurable and for durable expenditures. Changes in household size account for roughly half of these humps. The other half remains unaccounted for by the standard complete markets life cycle model. Our results imply that households do not smooth consumption over their lifetimes. This is especially the case for services from consumer durables. Bootstrap simulations suggest that our empirical estimates are tight and sensitivity analysis indicates that the computed profiles are robust to a large number of different specifications.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2004 Meeting Papers with number 173.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed004:173
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  1. Orazio P. Attanasio & Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Ekaterini Kyriazidou, 2008. "Credit Constraints In The Market For Consumer Durables: Evidence From Micro Data On Car Loans," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 401-436, 05.
  2. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244, March.
  3. Garner, Thesia I & de Vos, Klaas, 1995. "Income Sufficiency v. Poverty: Results from the United States and the Netherlands," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 117-34, May.
  4. Orazio P. Attanasio, 1998. "Cohort Analysis of Saving Behavior by U.S. Households," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(3), pages 575-609.
  5. Pendakur, Krishna, 1998. "Semiparametric estimates and tests of base-independent equivalence scales," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 1-40, November.
  6. Phipps, Shelley & Garner, Thesia I, 1994. "Are Equivalence Scales the Same for the United States and Canada?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 40(1), pages 1-17, March.
  7. Nelson, Julie A, 1988. "Household Economies of Scale in Consumption: Theory and Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1301-14, November.
  8. Fisher Jonathan D & Johnson David S, 2006. "Consumption Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Two Panel Data Sets," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-38, September.
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