NBER Working Papers by Claudia R. Sahm

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Working Papers

July 2010Check in the Mail or More in the Paycheck: Does the Effectiveness of Fiscal Stimulus Depend on How It Is Delivered?
with Matthew D. Shapiro, Joel Slemrod: w16246
Recent fiscal policies, including the 2008 stimulus payments and the 2009 Making Work Pay tax credit, aimed to increase household spending. This paper quantifies the spending response to these policies and examines differences in spending by whether the stimulus was delivered as a one-time payment or as a flow of payments from reduced withholding. Based on responses from a representative sample of households in the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, the paper finds that the reduction in withholding in 2009 boosted spending at roughly half the rate (13 percent) as the one-time payments (25 percent) in 2008.
October 2009Household Response to the 2008 Tax Rebate: Survey Evidence and Aggregate Implications
with Matthew D. Shapiro, Joel B. Slemrod: w15421
Only about one-fifth of respondents in the Reuters/University of Michigan survey report that the 2008 tax rebates led them to mostly increase spending, while over half said it would lead them to mostly pay off debt. Of those in the mostly-spend category, the response was swift, with over 80 percent reporting increasing their spending within three months of receiving their rebate. Older households, households with higher wealth and higher income, and those expecting future income growth were generally more likely to spend the rebates. A review of other surveys confirms the general pattern of results and suggests that small changes in survey design do not have a major effect on the distribution of responses. The distribution of survey answers corresponds to an aggregate MPC after one y...
February 2009Risk Preferences in the PSID: Individual Imputations and Family Covariation
with Miles S. Kimball, Matthew D. Shapiro: w14754
Survey measures of preference parameters provide a means for accounting for otherwise unobserved heterogeneity.This paper presents measures of relative risk tolerance based on responses to survey questions about hypothetical gambles over lifetime income.It discusses how to impute estimates of utility function parameters from the survey responses using a statistical model that accounts for survey response error. There is substantial heterogeneity in true preference parameters even after survey response error is taken into account.The paper discusses how to use the preference parameters imputed from the survey responses in regression models as a control for differences in preferences across individuals. This paper focuses on imputations for respondents in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics ...
August 2007Imputing Risk Tolerance from Survey Responses
with Miles S. Kimball, Matthew D. Shapiro: w13337
Economic theory assigns a central role to risk preferences. This paper develops a measure of relative risk tolerance using responses to hypothetical income gambles in the Health and Retirement Study. In contrast to most survey measures that produce an ordinal metric, this paper shows how to construct a cardinal proxy for the risk tolerance of each survey respondent. The paper also shows how to account for measurement error in estimating this proxy and how to obtain consistent regression estimates despite the measurement error. The risk tolerance proxy is shown to explain differences in asset allocation across households.

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