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Consumption Inequality and Intra-Household Allocations

  • Shannon Seitz
  • Jeremy Lise

The current literature on consumption inequality treats all adults within the household equally, making the implicit assumption that all consumption inequality is between, not within, households. However, increased marital sorting on earnings and the subsequent rise in the share of women's income in the household may have important implications for consumption inequality measured at the individual level. We use an extension of the collective framework of Chiappori to estimate a rule for assigning resources to individual household members. We then construct a measure of individual level inequality by looking at implied changes in intra-household allocations and explore the implications of our framework for the measurement of individual level, versus household level, consumption inequality. Our analysis, which is based on households comprising one or two adults, suggests that the conventional approach of ignoring intra-household allocations underestimates the level of cross-sectional consumption inequality by 30% and overstates the trend by two-thirds. Our findings also indicate that increases in marital sorting on wages and hours worked can simultaneously explain virtually all of the decline in within household inequality and a substantial fraction of the rise in between household inequality in the UK since the 1970s.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2005 Meeting Papers with number 448.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed005:448
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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  1. M. Browning & P. A. Chiappori, 1998. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations: A General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1241-1278, November.
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  3. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi, 1990. "How Serious Is the Neglect of Intra-Household Inequality?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(402), pages 866-81, September.
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  5. Browning, M. & Bourguignon, F. & Chiappori, P.A. & Lechene, V., 1992. "Incomes and Outcomes: A structural Model of Intra-Household Allocation," DELTA Working Papers 92-23, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
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  8. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1984. "Inequality Decomposition by Population Subgroups," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1369-85, November.
  9. Richard Blundell & Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Thierry Magnac & Costas Meghir, 2002. "Collective Labor Supply: Heterogeneity and Nonparticipation," Research Unit Working Papers 0210, Laboratoire d'Economie Appliquee, INRA.
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  12. Martin Browning & Pierre-Andre Chiappori, 2006. "Estimating Consumption Economies of Scale, Adult Equivalence Scales, and Household Bargaining Power," Economics Series Working Papers 289, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  13. Orazio Attanasio & Erich Battistin & Hidehiko Ichimura, 2004. "What Really Happened to Consumption Inequality in the US?," NBER Working Papers 10338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Manser, Marilyn & Brown, Murray, 1980. "Marriage and Household Decision-Making: A Bargaining Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 21(1), pages 31-44, February.
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  17. Pendakur, Krishna, 1998. "Changes in Canadian Family Income and Family Consumption Inequality between 1978 and 1992," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(2), pages 259-83, June.
  18. Erich Battistin, 2002. "Errors in Survey Reports of Consumption Expenditures," 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 C4-2, International Conferences on Panel Data.
  19. Garry Barrett & Thomas Crossley & Christopher Worswick, 1999. "Consumption and Income Inequality in Australia," CEPR Discussion Papers 404, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  20. Richard Blundell & Pierre-Andr� Chiappori & Costas Meghir, 2005. "Collective Labor Supply with Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1277-1306, December.
  21. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2001. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation and Household Labor Supply," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-16, CIRANO.
  22. Shannon Seitz, 2009. "Accounting for Racial Differences in Marriage and Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 385-437, 07.
  23. Train,Kenneth E., 2009. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521747387, 1.
  24. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 2000. "Sorting and Long-Run Inequality," NBER Working Papers 7508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Kanbur, Ravi & Haddad, Lawrence, 1994. "Are Better Off Households More Unequal or Less Unequal?," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(3), pages 445-58, July.
  26. Donni, Olivier, 2005. "Collective Female Labour Supply: Theory and Application," IZA Discussion Papers 1506, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  27. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
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