Anticipation and Consumption
020922-WP-Anticipation and Consumption-Thakral and To
Neil Thakral, Brown University
Linh T. Tô, Boston University
Cash transfer payments are an increasingly widespread policy tool in developed and developing countries, used for both short-term and long-term objectives. We study the design of these policies by examining how the time horizon over which households anticipate receiving transfer payments affects consumption and savings. Using Nielsen Consumer Panel data, we estimate higher marginal propensities to spend for US households scheduled to receive the 2008 Economic Stimulus Payments sooner. Analyzing data from randomized experiments in Kenya and Malawi, we document higher savings among households scheduled to wait longer before receiving lump-sum transfers. We discuss implications of our results through a model of mental accounting.