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Consumption Inequality and Intra-Household Allocations

  • Jeremy Lise

    (Queen's University)

  • Shannon Seitz

    (Queen's University)

The consumption literature uses adult equivalence scales to measure individual level inequality. This practice imposes the assumption that there is no within household inequality. In this paper, we show that ignoring consumption inequality within households produces misleading estimates of inequality along two dimensions. First, the use of adult equivalence scales underestimates the level of cross sectional consumption inequality by 30%. This result is driven by the fact that large differences in the earnings of husbands and wives translate into large differences in consumption allocations within households. Second, the rise in inequality since the 1970s is overstated by two-thirds: within house-hold inequality declined over time as the share of income provided by wives increased. 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 for one and two adult households in the UK since the 1970s.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/lab/papers/0504/0504001.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Labor and Demography with number 0504001.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 08 Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0504001
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 40
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. 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.
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  3. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality And Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640, May.
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  5. Fernández, Raquel & Rogerson, Richard, 2000. "Sorting and Long-Run Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 2352, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. 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.
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  9. Richard Blundell & André Chiappori & Thierry Magnac & Costas Meghir, 1998. "Collective labour supply: heterogeneity and non-participation," IFS Working Papers W98/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi, 1990. "Are better off households more unequal or less unequal ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 373, The World Bank.
  11. Olivier Donni, 2001. "Collective Female Labor Supply: Theory and Application," Cahiers de recherche CREFE / CREFE Working Papers 141, CREFE, Université du Québec à Montréal.
  12. Haddad, Lawrence & Kanbur, Ravi, 1989. "How serious is the neglect of intrahousehold inequality ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 296, The World Bank.
  13. 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.
  14. Pierre-André Chiappori & Richard Blundell & Costas Meghir, 2002. "Collective labour supply with children," IFS Working Papers W02/08, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  15. 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.
  16. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2001. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation and Household Labor Supply," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-16, CIRANO.
  17. Kenneth Train, 2003. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Online economics textbooks, SUNY-Oswego, Department of Economics, number emetr2.
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  19. 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).
  20. Krueger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio, 2005. "Does income inequality lead to consumption inequality? Evidence and theory," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/15, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
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  22. 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.
  23. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1984. "Inequality Decomposition by Population Subgroups," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1369-85, November.
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  25. Jay H. Hong & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2012. "Life Insurance and Household Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3701-30, December.
  26. Frederic Vermeulen, 2000. "Collective household models: principles and main results," Public Economics Working Paper Series ces0028, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, Working Group Public Economics.
  27. Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
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