Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis
This paper argues that the typical household's saving is better described by a "bufferstock" version than by the traditional version of the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis (LC/PIH) model. Buffer-stock behavior emerges if consumers with important income uncertainty are sufficiently impatient. In the traditional model, consumption growth is determined solely by tastes; in contrast, buffer-stock consumers set average consumption growth equal to average labor income growth, regardless of tastes. The model can explain three empirical puzzles: the ; the the 1930's; and the temporal stability of the household age/wealth profile despite the unpredictability of idiosyncratic wealth changes.