NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by John Sabelhaus

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Working Papers

October 2013Is the Consumer Expenditure Survey Representative by Income?
with David Johnson, Stephen Ash, David Swanson, Thesia Garner, John Greenlees, Steve Henderson: w19589
Aggregate under-reporting of household spending in the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) can result from two fundamental types of measurement errors: higher-income households (who presumably spend more than average) are under-represented in the CE estimation sample, or there is systematic under-reporting of spending by at least some CE survey respondents. Using a new data set linking CE units to zip-code level average Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), we show that the very highest-income households are less likely to respond to the survey when they are sampled, but unit non-response rates are not associated with income over most of the income distribution. Although increasing representation at the high end of the income distribution could in principle significantly raise aggregate CE spending, ...

Forthcoming: Is the Consumer Expenditure Survey Representative by Income?, John Sabelhaus, David Johnson, Stephen Ash, David Swanson, Thesia Garner, John Greenlees, Steve Henderson. in Improving the Measurement of Consumer Expenditures, Carroll, Crossley, and Sabelhaus. 2014

May 1996Understanding the Postwar Decline in U.S. Saving: A Cohort Analysis
with Jagadeesh Gokhale, Laurence J. Kotlikoff: w5571
Since 1980, the U.S. net national saving rate has averaged less than half the rate observed in the 1950s and 60s. This paper develops a unique cohort data set to study the decline in U.S. national saving. It decomposes postwar changes in U.S. saving into those due to changes in cohort-specific consumption propensities, those due to changes in the intergenerational distribution of resources, those due to changes in government spending on goods and services, and those due to changes in demographics. Our findings are striking. The decline in U.S. saving can be traced to two factors: The redistribution of resources from young and unborn generations with low or zero propensities to consume toward older generations with high consumption propensities, and a significant increase in the consumpti...

Published: Brookings Papers On Economic Activity, No. 1, Washington, DC, 1996, pp. 315-390. citation courtesy of

April 1995The Annuitization of Americans' Resources: A Cohort Analysis
with Alan J. Auerbach, Jagadeesh Gokhale, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, David N. Weil: w5089
This paper constructs a unique cohort data set to study the changes since 1960 in the share of Americans' resources that are annuitized. Understanding these changes is important because the larger this share, the more cohorts are likely to consume and the less they are likely to bequeath. Hence, the degree of annuitization affects national saving as well as the transmission of inequality over time. Our findings are striking. Although the annuitized share of resources of younger Americans declined slightly between 1960 and 1990, it increased dramatically for older Americans. It doubled for older men and quadrupled for older women. Since the elderly have much higher mortality probabilities than do the young, their degree of annuitization is much more important for aggregate bequests and...

Published: Kotlikoff, Laurence J. (ed.) Essays on Saving, Bequests, Altruism, and Life-Cycle Planning. 2001.

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