Consumption habits and humps

Consumption habits and humps We show that the optimal consumption of an individual over the life cycle can have the hump shape (inverted U-shape) observed empirically if the preferences of the individual exhibit internal habit formation. In the absence of habit formation, an impatient individual would prefer a decreasing consumption path over life. However, because of habit formation, a high initial consumption would lead to high required consumption in the future. To cover the future required consumption, wealth is set aside, but the necessary amount decreases with age which allows consumption to increase in the early part of life. At some age, the impatience outweighs the habit concerns so that consumption starts to decrease. We derive the optimal consumption strategy in closed form, deduce sufficient conditions for the presence of a consumption hump, and characterize the age at which the hump occurs. Numerical examples illustrate our findings. We show that our model can quantitatively reproduce the hump observed in US consumption data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Economic Theory Springer Journals

Consumption habits and humps

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Subject
Economics; Economic Theory/Quantitative Economics/Mathematical Methods; Game Theory, Economics, Social and Behav. Sciences; Microeconomics; Public Finance
ISSN
0938-2259
eISSN
1432-0479
D.O.I.
10.1007/s00199-016-0984-1
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We show that the optimal consumption of an individual over the life cycle can have the hump shape (inverted U-shape) observed empirically if the preferences of the individual exhibit internal habit formation. In the absence of habit formation, an impatient individual would prefer a decreasing consumption path over life. However, because of habit formation, a high initial consumption would lead to high required consumption in the future. To cover the future required consumption, wealth is set aside, but the necessary amount decreases with age which allows consumption to increase in the early part of life. At some age, the impatience outweighs the habit concerns so that consumption starts to decrease. We derive the optimal consumption strategy in closed form, deduce sufficient conditions for the presence of a consumption hump, and characterize the age at which the hump occurs. Numerical examples illustrate our findings. We show that our model can quantitatively reproduce the hump observed in US consumption data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Journal

Economic TheorySpringer Journals

Published: Jun 13, 2016

References

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