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Humps and bumps in lifetime consumption

Attanasio, O.; Banks, J.; Meghir, C.; Weber, G.; (1995) Humps and bumps in lifetime consumption. (IFS Working Papers WP95/14). Institute for Fiscal Studies: London, UK.

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There is much debate over whether the life-cycle model of consumption can explain consumption growth patterns patterns observed in household level data sources. We argue that once one departs from simple classroom example, or 'stripped down life-cycle model', the empirical model for consumption growth can be made flexible enough to fit the main features of the data. Using simulation techniques to assess the predictions of a life-cycle model estimated on US consumption data, we find that: * Allowing demographic variables to affect household preferences and relaxing assumptions about the effects of uncertainty can generate hump-shaped consumption profiles over age that are very similar to those observed in household level data sources, without appealing to alternative explanations such as liquidity constraints, myopia or mental accounting. * Humps in consumption paths are partly attributable to precautionary savings, and partly due to demographics; Bumps (or tracking - whereby consumption jumps with income) are instead due to the permanent nature of income shocks. * Neglecting the effects of uncertainty produces consumption profiles that are 'too flat', whereas neglecting the effects of demographics generates consumption profiles that peak 'too late'.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Humps and bumps in lifetime consumption
Publisher version: http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/browse/type/wp
Language: English
Additional information: Earlier draft of published article. Please see http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/14161/ for the version published in the Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, and http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/15223/ for the NBER Working Paper version
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Economics
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/14760
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