NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Saving Puzzles and Saving Policies in the United States

Annamaria Lusardi, Jonathan Skinner, Steven Venti

NBER Working Paper No. 8237
Issued in April 2001
NBER Program(s):   AG   PE

In the past two decades the widely reported personal saving rate in the United States has dropped from double digits to below zero. First, we attempt to account for the decline in the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) saving rate. The macroeconomic literature suggests that about half of the drop since 1988 can be attributed to households spending stock market capital gains. Another thirty percent is accounting transfers from personal saving into government and corporate saving because of the way pensions and capital gains taxes are treated in the NIPA. Second, while NIPA saving measures are well suited for measuring the supply of new funds for investment and capital accumulation, it is not clear that they should be the target of government saving policies. Finally, we emphasize that the NIPA saving rate is not useful in judging whether households are preparing for retirement or other contingencies. Many households have accumulated significant wealth, primarily through retirement saving vehicles and capital gains, even as the saving rate slid. There remains a segment of the population, however, who save little and whose behavior appears untouched either by the stock market boom or the slide in personal saving. We explore reasons and policy options for their puzzlingly low saving rate.

download in pdf format
   (336 K)

email paper

The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

This paper is available as PDF (336 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w8237

Published: A Lusardi & J Skinner & S Venti, 2001. "Saving puzzles and saving policies in the United States," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 95-115, Spring.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Donohue and Levitt w11987 Measurement Error, Legalized Abortion, and the Decline in Crime: A Response to Foote and Goetz (2005)
Besley and Coate w7083 The Public Critique of Welfare Economics: An Exploration
Olsen w8208 Housing Programs for Low-Income Households
Ball and Mankiw w8270 Intergenerational Risk Sharing in the Spirit of Arrow, Debreu, and Rawls, with Applications to Social Security Design
Lakdawalla and Philipson w8946 The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us