Precautionary Saving of Chinese and U.S. Households

Horag Choi, Steven Lugauer, Nelson C. Mark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We employ a model of precautionary saving to study why household saving rates are high in China and low in the United States. The use of recursive preferences gives a convenient decomposition of saving into precautionary and nonprecautionary components. Over 80% of China's saving rate and nearly all U.S. saving arises from the precautionary motive. The difference between U.S. and Chinese household income growth rates is vastly more important than income risk for explaining the saving rates. The key mechanism is that precautionary savers have target wealth-to-income ratios, and rapid income growth necessitates high saving rates to maintain the ratio.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-661
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Money, Credit and Banking
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Ohio State University


  • China
  • precautionary saving
  • recursive preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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