This work provides an overview of the recent research on the saving and consumption patterns of households, a field in which substantial progress has been made over the last few decades. The attempts by economists to understand the saving and consumption patterns of households have generated some of the best science in economics. For more than 50 years, there has been serious empirical and theoretical activity, and the data and the theory have never been separated as has happened in many branches of economics. Research has drawn microeconomists interested in household behaviour, as well as macroeconomists, for whom the behaviour of aggregate consumption has always occupied a central role in explaining aggregate fluctuations. Econometricians have also made distinguished contributions, and there has been a steady flow of new methodologies by those working on saving and consumption, in time-series econometrics, as well as in the study of micro and panel data. A coherent account of these developments is presented here, emphasizing the interplay between the micro and the macro, between the studies of cross-section and panels, and those using the aggregate time series.
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Angus Deaton is at Princeton University.
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