Empirical Economics

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 717–741 | Cite as

On the distributional properties of household consumption expenditures: the case of Italy

  • Giorgio FagioloEmail author
  • Lucia Alessi
  • Matteo Barigozzi
  • Marco Capasso
Original Paper


In this paper we explore the statistical properties of the distributions of consumption expenditures for a large sample of Italian households in the period 1989–2004. Goodness-of-fit tests show that household aggregate (and age-conditioned) consumption distributions are not log-normal. Rather, their logs can be invariably characterized by asymmetric exponential-power densities. Departures from log-normality are mainly due to the presence of thick lower tails coexisting with upper tails thinner than Gaussian ones. The emergence of this irreducible heterogeneity in statistical patterns casts some doubts on the attempts to explain log-normality of household consumption patterns by means of simple models based on Gibrat’s Law applied to permanent income and marginal utility.


Consumption Asymmetric exponential-power distribution Income distribution Log-normal distribution Gibrat’s law 

JEL Classification

D3 D12 C12 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giorgio Fagiolo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lucia Alessi
    • 2
  • Matteo Barigozzi
    • 1
    • 3
  • Marco Capasso
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Laboratory of Economics and ManagementSant’Anna School of Advanced StudiesPisaItaly
  2. 2.European Central BankFrankfurt am MainGermany
  3. 3.European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (ECARES)Université Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium
  4. 4.Faculty of Geosciences, Urban and Regional Research Centre Utrecht (URC)Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Utrecht School of Economics, Tjalling Co Koopmans Research Institute (TKI)Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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