- A direct test of the buffer-stock model of saving (2007)
- Recent models with liquidity constraints and impatience emphasize that consumers use savings to buffer income fluctuations. When wealth is below an optimal target, consumers try to increase their buffer stock of wealth by saving more. When it is above target, they increase consumption. This important implication of the buffer stock model of saving has not been subject to direct empirical testing. We derive from the model an appropriate theoretical restriction and test it using data on working-age individuals drawn from the 2002 and 2004 Italian Surveys of Household Income and Wealth. One of the most appealing features of the survey is that it has data on the amount of wealth held for precautionary purposes, which we interpret as target wealth in a buffer stock model. The test results do not support buffer stock behavior, even among population groups that are more likely, a priori, to display such behavior. The saving behavior of young households is instead consistent with models in which impatience, relative to prudence, is not as high as in buffer stock models. JEL Classification: D91
- Intertemporal choice and consumption mobility (2005)
- The theory of intertemporal consumption choice makes sharp predictions about the evolution of the entire distribution of household consumption, not just about its conditional mean. In the paper, we study the empirical transition matrix of consumption using a panel drawn from the Bank of Italy Survey of Household Income and Wealth. We estimate the parameters that minimize the distance between the empirical and the theoretical transition matrix of the consumption distribution. The transition matrix generated by our estimates matches remarkably well the empirical matrix, both in the aggregate and in samples stratified by education. Our estimates strongly reject the consumption insurance model and suggest that households smooth income shocks to a lesser extent than implied by the permanent income hypothesis. Klassifikation: D52, D91, I30
- Fiscal policy and MPC heterogeneity (2013)
- We use responses to survey questions in the 2010 Italian Survey of Household Income and Wealth that ask consumers how much of an unexpected transitory income change they would consume. We find that the marginal propensity to consume (MPC) is 48 percent on average, and that there is substantial heterogeneity in the distribution. We find that households with low cash-on-hand exhibit a much higher MPC than affluent households, which is in agreement with models with precautionary savings where income risk plays an important role. The results have important implications for the evaluation of fiscal policy, and for predicting household responses to tax reforms and redistributive policies. In particular, we find that a debt-financed increase in transfers of 1 percent of national disposable income targeted to the bottom decile of the cash-on-hand distribution would increase aggregate consumption by 0.82 percent. Furthermore, we find that redistributing 1% of national disposable income from the top to the bottom decile of the income distribution would boost aggregate consumption by 0.33%.