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Household income uncertainties over three decades

James Feigenbaum () and Geng Li

Oxford Economic Papers, 2015, vol. 67, issue 4, 963-986

Abstract: We study the trend in household income uncertainty using a novel approach that measures income uncertainty at each future horizon as the variance of forecast errors without imposing specific parametric restrictions on the underlying income shocks. We document a widespread increase in household income uncertainty since the early 1970s that is both statistically and economically significant. For example, our measure of near-future uncertainty in total family non-capital income rose about 40% between 1971 and 2002. This rising uncertainty is likely due to the increase in variances of both persistent and transitory income shocks. A parsimoniously calibrated Aiyagari model is solved to illustrate how rising income uncertainty should have affected aggregate saving.

Date: 2015
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