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Explaining Why So Many Households Do Not Save

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  • Annamaria Lusardi

Abstract

There are vast differences in wealth holdings, even among households in similar age groups. In addition, a large percentage of U.S. households arrive close to retirement with little or no wealth. While many explanations can be found to rationalize these facts, approximately thirty percent of households whose head is close to retirement have done little or no planning for retirement. Planning is shaped by the experience of other individuals: individuals learn to plan for retirement from older siblings. They also learn from the experience of old parents. In particular, unpleasant events, such as financial difficulties and health shocks at the end of life, provide incentives toward planning. In addition, planning affects wealth levels as well as portfolio choice. Individuals who plan are more likely to hold large amounts of wealth and to invest their wealth holdings in high return assets, such as stocks. Thus, planning plays an important role in explaining the saving behavior of many households.

Suggested Citation

  • Annamaria Lusardi, 2000. "Explaining Why So Many Households Do Not Save," JCPR Working Papers 203, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:203
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    1. Andrea Repetto, 2001. "Incentivos al ahorro personal: Lecciones de la economía del comportamiento," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Felipe Morandé & Rodrigo Vergara & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Series Edit (ed.), Análisis Empírico del Ahorro en Chile, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 191-240 Central Bank of Chile.
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    8. Luca Agnello & Nikola Altiparmakov & Michal Andrle & Maria Grazia Attinasi & Jan Babecký & Salvador Barrios & John Bluedorn & Vladimir Borgy & Othman Bouabdallah & Andries Brandsma & Adi Brender & Vít, 2016. "Beyond the austerity dispute: new priorities for fiscal policy," Workshop and Conferences 20, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
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