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Inequality over the Business Cycle: Estimating Income Risk using Micro-Data on Consumption

  • Giorgio Primiceri

    (Princeton University)

  • Thijs van Rens

    (Princeton University)

We use CEX repeated cross-section data on consumption and income, to evaluate the nature of increased income inequality in the 1980s and 90s. We decompose unexpected changes in family income into transitory and permanent, and idiosyncratic and aggregate components, and estimate the contribution of each component to total inequality. The model we use is a linearized incomplete markets model, enriched to incorporate risk- sharing while maintaining tractability. Our estimates suggest that taking risk sharing into account is important for the model fit; that the increase in inequality in the 1980s was mainly permanent; and that inequality is driven almost entirely by idiosyncratic income risk. In addition we find no evidence for cyclical behavior of consumption risk, casting doubt on Constantinides and Duffie's (1995) explanation for the equity premium puzzle.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 0212003.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: 10 Dec 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:0212003
Note: Type of Document - Adobe pdf (composed in SWP); prepared on IBM PC; to print on PostScript; pages: 51 ; figures: included. An updated version of this paper may be available at:
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  11. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Banks, James & Blundell, Richard & Brugiavini, Agar, 2001. "Risk Pooling, Precautionary Saving and Consumption Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(4), pages 757-79, October.
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  18. Christopher D. Carroll, 1997. "Death to the Log-Linearized Consumption Euler Equation! (And Very Poor Health to the Second-Order Approximation)," NBER Working Papers 6298, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2001. "The Empirical Importance of Precautionary Saving," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 406-412, May.
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  24. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
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  26. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
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