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Household Savings in Germany

Author

Listed:
  • Axel Börsch-Supan

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Anette Reil-Held

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Ralf Rodepeter

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Reinhold Schnabel

    (University of Mannheim)

  • University of Mannheim
  • Germany

Abstract

This paper describes how German households save and how their saving behavior is linked to public policy, notably pension policy. The analysis is based on a synthetic panel of four cross sections of the German Income and Expenditure Survey ("Einkommens- und Verbrauchsstichproben," EVS, 1978, 1983, 1988, and 1993). The paper carefully distinguishes between several saving measures and concepts. It separates discretionary savings from mandatory savings and uses two flow measures: first, the sum of purchases of assets minus the sum of sales of assets and, second, the residual of income minus consumption. Our main finding is a hump-shaped age-saving profile with a high overall saving rate. However, savings remain positive in old age, even for most low-income households. How can we explain what may be termed the "German savings puzzle"? Germany has one of the most generous public pension and health insurance systems in the world, yet private savings are high until old age. We provide a complicated answer that combines historical facts with capital market imperfections and a distinction between the role of discretionary and mandatory savings.

Suggested Citation

  • Axel Börsch-Supan & Anette Reil-Held & Ralf Rodepeter & Reinhold Schnabel & University of Mannheim & Germany, 2000. "Household Savings in Germany," Macroeconomics 0004053, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0004053
    Note: Type of Document - Adobe Acrobat PDF; prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 41; figures: included
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Borsch-Supan, Axel, 1992. "Saving and Consumption Patterns of the Elderly: The German Case," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 5(4), pages 289-303.
    2. Deaton, Angus, 1985. "Panel data from time series of cross-sections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 109-126.
    3. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Terlizzese, Daniele, 1991. "Why is Italy's Savings Rate So High?," CEPR Discussion Papers 572, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. James M. Poterba, 1994. "International Comparisons of Household Saving," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number pote94-1, July.
    5. Walliser, Jan & Winter, Joachim, 1998. "Tax incentives, bequest motives and the demand for life insurance : evidence from Germany," Papers 99-28, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    6. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1996. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1797-1855, December.
    7. Anette Reil-Held, 1999. "Bequests and Aggregate Wealth Accumulation in Germany," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 24(1), pages 50-63, January.
    8. Reinhard Hujer & Bernd Fitzenberger & Reinhold Schnabel & Thomas E. MaCurdy, 2001. "Testing for uniform wage trends in West-Germany: A cohort analysis using quantile regressions for censored data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 41-86.
    9. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Schnabel, Reinhold, 1998. "Pension Provision in Germany," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 98-07, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    10. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 1999. "Ersparnisbildung in Deutschland : Meßkonzepte und Ergebnisse auf Basis der EVS," Papers 99-02, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    11. Rodepeter, Ralf & Winter, Joachim, 1998. "Savings decisions under life-time and earnings uncertainty : empirical evidence from West German household data," Papers 98-58, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    12. Fachinger, Uwe, 1998. "Die Verteilung der Vermögen privater Haushalte: Einige konzeptionelle Anmerkungen sowie empirische Befunde für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland," Working papers of the ZeS 13/1998, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).
    13. Börsch-Supan, Axel H. & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 1999. "Ersparnisbildung in Deutschland: Meßkonzepte und Ergebnisse," Munich Reprints in Economics 20239, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    14. Rodepeter, Ralf & Winter, Joachim, 1998. "Savings decisions under life-time and earnings uncertainty:," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 98-58, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Schunk, Daniel, 2007. "What determines the saving behavior of German households? : an examination of saving motives and saving decisions," Papers 07-10, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
    2. Borsch-Supan, Axel & Reil-Held, Anette & Rodepeter, Ralf & Schnabel, Reinhold & Winter, Joachim, 2001. "The German Savings Puzzle," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 15-38, March.
    3. Weller, Christian E., 2001. "Programs without alternative: Public pensions in the OECD," ZEI Working Papers B 15-2001, University of Bonn, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies.
    4. Börsch-Supan, Axel & Ludwig, Alexander & Sommer, Mathias, 2005. "Aging and Asset Prices," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 07-29, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    5. Richard Hauser & Holger Stein, 2004. "Inequality of the Distribution of Personal Wealth in Germany 1973 - 1998," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_398, Levy Economics Institute.
    6. Westerheide, Peter, 2004. "Auswirkungen von Erbschaften und Schenkungen auf die Vermögensbildung privater Personen und Haushalte: Eine ökonometrische Analyse auf der Basis des Sozio-oekonomischen Panels," ZEW Discussion Papers 04-28, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    7. Börsch-Supan, Axel, 2004. "GLOBAL AGING - Issues, Answers, More Questions," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 07-28, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
    8. Schunk Daniel, 2009. "What Determines Household Saving Behavior: An Examination of Saving Motives and Saving Decisions 06.01.2009," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 229(4), pages 467-491, August.
    9. Anette Reil Held, 2005. "Crowding out or crowding in?," MEA discussion paper series 05072, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.

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    JEL classification:

    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics

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