Consumption Over the Life-Cycle
University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
Jonathan A. Parker
Kellogg School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
CEPR Discussion Paper No. 2345
This paper employs cohort technique and Consumer Expenditure Survey data to construct average age-profiles of consumption and income over the working lives of typical households across different education and occupation groups. Using these profiles, we estimate a structural model of optimal life-cycle consumption expenditures in the presence of realistic labour income uncertainty. The model fits the profiles quite well. In addition to providing tight estimates of the discount rate and risk aversion, we find that consumer behaviour changes strikingly over the life-cycle. Young consumers behave as buffer-stock agents. Around the age of 40, the typical household starts accumulating liquid assets for retirement and its behaviour mimics more closely that of a certainty equivalent consumer. This change in behaviour is mostly driven by the life-cycle profile of expected income. Our methodology provides a natural decomposition of saving into its precautionary and retirement components.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 54
Keywords: Buffer stocks, life cycle, precautionary savings, simulated moments
JEL Classification: C61, D91, E21working papers series
Date posted: May 4, 2001
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