Consumption-Wealth Comovement of the Wrong Sign

31 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2012

See all articles by James J. Choi

James J. Choi

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David Laibson

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Brigitte C. Madrian

Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Andrew Metrick

Yale School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Yale University - Yale Program on Financial Stability

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: April 2004

Abstract

Economic theory predicts that an unexpected wealth windfall should increase consumption shortly after the windfall is received. We test this prediction using administrative records on over 40,000 401(k) accounts. Contrary to theory, we estimate a negative short-run marginal propensity to consume out of idiosyncratic 401(k) capital gains shocks. These results cannot be interpreted as standard intertemporal substitution, since the idiosyncratic returns that we study do not predict future returns. Instead, our findings imply that many investors are influenced by a positive feedback effect, through which higher recent returns encourage higher short-run saving. Like any other animal, 401(k) participants appear to increase behaviors that have been associated with high rewards in the past.

Suggested Citation

Choi, James J. and Laibson, David I. and Madrian, Brigitte C. and Metrick, Andrew, Consumption-Wealth Comovement of the Wrong Sign (April 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w10454. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=538482

James J. Choi

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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David I. Laibson (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Brigitte C. Madrian

Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Andrew Metrick

Yale School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
United States
(203)-432-3069 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.som.yale.edu/andrewmetrick/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yale University - Yale Program on Financial Stability

165 Whitney Avenue
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States

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