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Why do the Rich Save More? A Theory and Australian Evidence

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  • Chakrabarty, Debajyoti
  • Katayama, Hajime
  • Maslen, Hanna

Abstract

We provide a theory to explain the existence of inequality in an economy where agents have identical preferences and have access to the same production technology. Agents consume a "utility" good and a "health" good which determines their subjective discount factor. Depending on initial distribution of capital the economy gets separated into different permanent-income groups. This leads to a testable hypothesis: "The rich save a larger proportion of their permanent income". We test this implication for the savings behaviour in Australia. We show that even after controlling for life-cycle characteristics permanent income and savings are positively correlated. An improvement in the health leads to a positive effect on savings behaviour.

Suggested Citation

  • Chakrabarty, Debajyoti & Katayama, Hajime & Maslen, Hanna, 2006. "Why do the Rich Save More? A Theory and Australian Evidence," Working Papers 06-02.1, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:syd:wpaper:2123/7656
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary S. Becker & Casey B. Mulligan, 1997. "The Endogenous Determination of Time Preference," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 729-758.
    2. Milton Friedman, 1957. "Introduction to "A Theory of the Consumption Function"," NBER Chapters,in: A Theory of the Consumption Function, pages 1-6 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Cagetti, Marco & De Nardi, Mariacristina, 2008. "Wealth Inequality: Data And Models," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(S2), pages 285-313, September.
    4. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
    5. Bruce Headey & Gary Marks & Mark Wooden, 2005. "The Structure and Distribution of Household Wealth in Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 38(2), pages 159-175, June.
    6. Edward N. Wolff, 1998. "Recent Trends in the Size Distribution of Household Wealth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
    7. Barrett, Garry F & Crossley, Thomas F & Worswick, Christopher, 2000. "Consumption and Income Inequality in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 76(233), pages 116-138, June.
    8. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, January.
    9. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352-352.
    10. Lawrance, Emily C, 1991. "Poverty and the Rate of Time Preference: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 54-77, February.
    11. Karen E. Dynan & Jonathan Skinner & Stephen P. Zeldes, 2004. "Do the Rich Save More?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 397-444, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Néstor Gandelman, 2015. "Do the Rich Save More in Latin America?," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6914, Inter-American Development Bank.
    2. Wei-Ting Pan, 2016. "The Impact of Mandatory Savings on Life Cycle Consumption and Portfolio Choice," PhD Thesis, Finance Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney, number 32.
    3. Dutta, Dilip & Yang, Yibai, 2012. "Endogenous time preference: evidence from Australian households' behaviour," Working Papers 2012-07, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    4. Néstor Gandelman, 2017. "Do the rich save more in Latin America?," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 15(1), pages 75-92, March.
    5. Néstor Gandelman, 2017. "Do the rich save more in Latin America?," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 15(1), pages 75-92, March.

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