De Economist

, Volume 157, Issue 1, pp 107–120 | Cite as

Explaining The Hump In Life Cycle Consumption profiles

  • Rob AlessieEmail author
  • Joppe de Ree
Open Access
Notes and Communications


This paper documents life cycle (or age) profiles of (log) household income, durable and non-durable consumption for Dutch households after explicitly controlling for time (or business cycle) effects and birth cohort effects. We find that both measures of consumption as well as income is clearly hump shaped over the life cycle. Hence, real consumption per household seems to track income over the life cycle. This empirical regularity is hard to reconcile with basic specifications of the life cycle model. We further document life cycle profiles of demographic and labor supply variables. We argue that part, but not all, of the hump in consumption may be explained by household composition variables. Durable consumption per adult equivalent stays approximately flat until age 60 after which it drops dramatically. This phenomenon may be partly explained by a decrease in work related durable expenditures after retirement. Non-durable consumption per equivalent adult increases steadily until age 55 and stays approximately flat after that.


consumption life cycle profiles durables 

JEL Code(s)

D12 D91 


Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Groningen, Netspar and Tinbergen Institute, Faculty of Economics and BusinessGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.DIW BerlinBerlin (Mitte)Germany

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