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The intertemporal allocation of consumption: theory and evidence

Attanasio, O.; (1995) The intertemporal allocation of consumption: theory and evidence. Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy , 42 pp. 39-56. 10.1016/0167-2231(95)00028-X.

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Liquidity constraints and, more generally, imperfections in credit markets, can be extremely important for the intertemporal allocation of consumption and have received a substantial amount of attention in the theoretical and empirical literature on consumption. In the first part of the paper I review the reasons why liquidity constraints are important. Unfortunately, for several reasons, it is not easy to test for the presence of liquidity constraints. Aggregation issues preclude the use of aggregate time series data for such a purpose. Test based on micro data, however, are complicated by serious identification problems. If a simple equilibrium model does not fit some data set, one can change the assumptions about the opportunity set available to the economic agents or the specification of their preferences. For instance, empirical evidence that detects excess sensitivity of consumption to income could be explained by liquidity constraints or by non-separability between consumption and leisure. However, the available evidence shows that it is possible to find flexible specifications of preferences that fit consumption movements at business cycle frequencies. I also present simulation evidence that shows that from many plausible parameter configurations, liquidity constraints are likely to be relevant only for a small proportion of economic agents. In the last part of the paper I present new evidence on the relevance of liquidity constraints based on debt-holding data. The data indicate that the demand for debt of individuals is more likely to be liquidity constrained and is less elastic to changes in the interest rate.

Type: Article
Title: The intertemporal allocation of consumption: theory and evidence
DOI: 10.1016/0167-2231(95)00028-X
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0167-2231(95)00028-X
Language: English
Additional information: This article is one of a collection of articles from the forty-second volume in the series which presents the papers prepared for the conferences, plus the comments of discussants and participants
Keywords: JEL classification: D91, E21
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Economics
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/15239
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