Ashoka Mody, Damiano Sandri, and Franziska Ohnsorge
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
Heightened uncertainty since the onset of the Great Recession has materially increased saving rates, contributing to lower consumption and GDP growth. Consistent with a model of precautionary savings in the face of uncertainty, we find for a panel of advanced economies that greater labor income uncertainty is significantly associated with higher household savings. These results are robust to controlling for other determinants of saving rates, including wealth-to-income ratios, the government fiscal balance, demographics, credit conditions, and global growth and financial stress. Our estimates imply that at least two-fifths of the sharp increase in household saving rates between 2007 and 2009 can be attributed to the precautionary savings motive.