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

Listed author(s):
  • 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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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/mac/papers/0212/0212003.pdf
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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
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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  1. Krueger, Dirk & Perri, Fabrizio, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3583, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  3. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Parker, Jonathan A, 2001. "The Empirical Importance of Precautionary Saving," CEPR Discussion Papers 2737, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Orazio Attanasio & Steven J. Davis, 1994. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," NBER Working Papers 4771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Danny Quah, 1988. "The Relative Importance of Permanent and Transitory Components: Identification and Some Theoretical Bounds," Working papers 498, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality and Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640.
  7. Carroll Christopher Dixon, 2001. "Death to the Log-Linearized Consumption Euler Equation! (And Very Poor Health to the Second-Order Approximation)," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-38, April.
  8. Felix Kubler & Karl Schmedders, 2000. "Incomplete Markets, Transitory Shocks And Welfare," Computing in Economics and Finance 2000 130, Society for Computational Economics.
  9. Constantinides, George M & Duffie, Darrell, 1996. "Asset Pricing with Heterogeneous Consumers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(2), pages 219-240, April.
  10. Alon Brav & George M. Constantinides & Christopher C. Geczy, "undated". "Asset Pricing with Heterogeneous Consumers and Limited Participation: Empirical Evidence," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 23-99, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  11. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
  12. 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).
  13. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Christopher I. & Yaron, Amir, 2004. "Consumption and risk sharing over the life cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 609-633, April.
  14. Deaton, A. & Paxson, C., 1993. "Intertemporal Choice and Inequality," Papers 168, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  15. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Agar Brugiavini, 1999. "Risk pooling, precautionary saving and consumption growth," IFS Working Papers W99/19, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  16. Robert A. Moffitt & Peter Gottschalk, 2002. "Trends in the Transitory Variance of Earnings in the United States," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(478), pages 68-73, March.
  17. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 1999. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 7271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. 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.
  19. Timothy Cogley, 1998. "Idiosyncratic risk and the equity premium: evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 98-07, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  20. 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.
  21. R. Moffitt & P. Gottschalk, "undated". "Trends in the covariance structure of earnings in the United States: 1969-1987," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1001-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  22. Quah, D., 1989. "Permanent And Transitory Movements In Labor Income: An Explanation For "Excess Smoothness" In Consumption," Working papers 535, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  23. Ramey, Garey & Ramey, Valerie A, 1995. "Cross-Country Evidence on the Link between Volatility and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1138-1151, December.
  24. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris I. Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2000. "The Welfare Cost of Business Cycles Revisited: Finite Lives and Cyclical Variation in Idiosyncratic Risk," NBER Working Papers 8040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. John Heaton & Deborah Lucas, 1993. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," NBER Working Papers 4249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Orazio Attanasio & Tullio Jappelli, 1997. "The life cycle hypothesis and consumption inequality," IFS Working Papers W97/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  27. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles R. Nelson, 1999. "State-Space Models with Regime Switching: Classical and Gibbs-Sampling Approaches with Applications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262112388, September.
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