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The rigidity of choice: lifetime savings under information-processing constraints

Tutino, Antonella (2008): The rigidity of choice: lifetime savings under information-processing constraints.

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Abstract

This paper studies the implications of information-processing limits on the consumption and savings behavior of households through time. It presents a dynamic model in which consumers rationally choose the size and scope of the information they want to process about their fi�nancial possibilities, constrained by a Shannon channel. The model predicts that people with higher degrees of risk aversion rationally choose higher information. This happens for precautionary reasons since, with fi�nite processing rate, risk averse consumers prefer to be well informed about their fi�nancial possibilities before implementing consumption plan. Moreover, numerical results show that consumers with processing capacity constraints have asymmetric responses to shocks, with negative shocks producing more persistent effects than positive ones. This asymmetry results into more savings. I show that the predictions of the model can be effectively used to study the impact of tax reforms on consumers spending. The results are qualitatively consistent with the evidence on tax rebates (2001, 2008).

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