Scarred Consumption

80 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2018

See all articles by Ulrike Malmendier

Ulrike Malmendier

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Leslie Sheng Shen

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2018

Abstract

We show that personal experiences of economic shocks can “scar'” consumer behavior in the long run. We first illustrate the effects of experience-based learning in a simple stochastic life-cycle consumption model with time-varying financial constraints. We then use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the Nielsen Homescan Panel, and the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) to estimate the long-term effects of lifetime experiences on consumption. We show that households who have lived through times of high local and national unemployment, or who have experienced more personal unemployment, spend significantly less on food and total consumption, after controlling for income, wealth, employment, demographics, and macro-economic factors, such as the current unemployment rate. The reverse holds for past experiences of low unemployment. We also estimate significant experience-based variation in consumption within household, i. e., after including household fixed effects. At the same time, lifetime experiences do not predict individuals' future income. The Nielsen data reveals that households who have lived through times of high unemployment are particularly likely to use coupons and to purchase sale items or lower-end products. As predicted by the experience-based learning model, the effects of a given macro shock are stronger for younger than for older cohorts. Finally, past experiences predict beliefs about future economic conditions in the Michigan Survey of Consumers (MSC), implying a beliefs-based channel. Our results suggest a novel micro-foundation of fluctuations of aggregate demand, and explain long-run effects of macroeconomic shocks.

Suggested Citation

Malmendier, Ulrike and Shen, Leslie Sheng, Scarred Consumption (June 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w24696, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3194926

Ulrike Malmendier (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
(510) 642-8724 (Phone)
(510) 642-6615 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/~ulrike/

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos/index_html?key=918

Leslie Sheng Shen

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
17
Abstract Views
347
PlumX Metrics