The life-cycle hypothesis, fiscal policy and social security

Tullio Jappelli


In the early 1950s Modigliani, with Brumberg and Ando, formulated the life-cycle theory of consumption and savings that enjoyed a huge and undisputed success. But, since the early 1980s, the life-cycle theory has increasingly come under attack. One reason is the existence of an important inter-generational transmission of wealth, to be imputed to motives that are exogenous to the life-cycle model. The second reason is the growing evidence that the rich continue to save more than the less fortunate, as Keynes in fact maintained. The third reason is that there is growing evidence that young families in their twenties and thirties save a positive and increasing proportion of their income, which is in sharp contrast with the original version of the life-cycle theory. Finally, a number of empirical works have found that pensioners set aside a high proportion of their income. This requires a rethinking of the life-cycle approach.


JEL Codes: D91, E21, E62, H55


Consumption, Fiscal Policy, Life Cycle, Policy, Saving, Social Security, Wealth

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