Using data from the British Household Panel Survey and Understanding Society, we examine the saving behaviour of individuals over time. Initially, we explore the determinants of the saving behaviour of children aged 11–15. Our findings suggest that parental allowances/pocket money (earnings from part-time work) lower (increase) the probability that a child saves. There is also evidence that the financial expectations of the head of household have an influence on their offspring’s saving behaviour, where children of optimistic parents have a lower probability of saving by approximately 2 percentage points. However, there is no evidence of an intergenerational correlation in savings behaviour: the saving behaviour of parents appears to have no bearing on the saving decisions of their offspring. We then go on to explore the implications of the saving behaviour of children for their savings decisions in later life, specifically when observed in early adulthood. We find that having saved as a child has a large positive influence both on the probability of saving on a monthly basis and on the amount saved as an adult. This finding is robust to alternative empirical strategies including IV analysis where the most conservative estimates show that having saved as a child increases the probability of saving during adulthood by 12 percentage points.
J. Ameriks, A. Caplin, J. Leahy
Wealth accumulation and the propensity to plan
The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118 (2003), pp. 1007–1047
AbstractWhy do similar households end up with very different levels of wealth? We show that differences in the attitudes and skills with which they approach financial planning are a significant factor. We use new and unique survey data to assess these differences and to measure each household’s “propensity to plan.” We show that those with a higher such propensity spend more time developing financial plans, and that this shift in planning is associated with increased wealth. These findings are consistent with broad psychological evidence concerning the beneficial impacts of planning on goal pursuit. Those with a high propensity to plan may be better able to control their spending, and thereby achieve their goal of wealth accumulation. We find direct evidence supporting this effortful self-control channel in the very strong relationship we uncover between the propensity to plan and budgeting behavior.