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Family dissolution and precautionary savings: an empirical analysis

Pericoli, Filippo Maria and Ventura, Luigi (2011): Family dissolution and precautionary savings: an empirical analysis. Forthcoming in: Review of Economics of the Household

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Abstract

The main research question of this paper is whether or not the risk of family disruption has an impact on the consumption/saving decisions of households. Although little empirical work exists in this area, often presenting indirect evidence, the theory is divided over the effect of family risk over saving and wealth accumulation. By using data from the Italian Survey on Households Income and Wealth, we build a probabilistic model to assess the probability of marital splitting, and then we insert this probability as a distinct or interacted regressor, in a statistically consistent way, into a linear model of consumption. Furthermore, we study the differential behaviour, in terms of consumption/saving choices, of couples experiencing marital splitting over the subsequent two years. The main result of our analysis is that family disruption risk generates precautionary savings, reducing current consumption. In fact, according to our estimates, on average, the risk of divorce generates an amount of additional yearly precautionary savings of around 800 euros at constant prices of the year 2000, which represents 11% of overall household savings.

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