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Joint and Individual Savings within Families: Evidence from Bank Accounts

Abstract

Are savings evenly distributed and owned within families or do partners within families differ in their wealth? In this paper we investigated the ownership of financial assets within families and how joint savings affect the individual savings of the partners. We used anonymised monthly transactional data from ING Bank from 2014 to 2016 to observe financial data on Dutch couples. We found that savings were quite equally allocated in almost half of the households, while in the other half it was common that only one partner owned an individual account. The estimations showed that joint savings contributed to a more equal division of savings since they were held equally. However, we found larger differences in individual savings among partners who shared some savings, suggesting that the use of joint savings did not lead to individual savings being more evenly distributed, but rather to the opposite. The pattern was more apparent for households in their 20s and for savings accounts. The results of the study highlight the need for a better understanding of how partners make decisions about applying the sharing rule to joint and individual savings.

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Notes

  1. Eurostat database at ec.europa.eu, code [lfsa_eppga].

  2. Eurostat database at ec.europa.eu, code [sdg_05_20].

  3. The statistics are available from the Statistics Netherlands database https://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/en/dataset/37425eng/table?ts=1571308829477

  4. The tax rules are provided by Tax and Customs administration at https://www.belastingdienst.nl

  5. The research was conducted under Think Forward Initiative project grant, and an agreement to access the anonymised bank dataset was part of the project. Data processing for scientific purposes was used in compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation.

  6. Since the data on children are collected indirectly, some data may be missing. This would lead to lower estimates.

  7. The ownership of pension accounts is very small because the data cover only voluntary defined contribution pension schemes, but the majority of voluntary pension schemes are in life insurance (HFCS 2017). Additionally, pension assets are only individual. However, we included these pension assets in the analysis as they can be liquidated when needed, contributing to the individual financial assets.

  8. Regression estimations on the share of individual savings held by women or men showed that neither gender benefitted systematically from pooling. The variable indicating pooling was not statistically significant, whether the binary or continuous variable was used (not reported).

  9. Although pension accounts are not held jointly, it is possible to estimate the difference in the shares of individual balances and how pooling is linked to the gap for any other products.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Dimitry Fleming for his help with the database and technical issues, Jaanika Meriküll, Kim Peijnenburg, Tairi Rõõm, and participants at a TalTech research seminar, at EMS 2019, at the IAREP/SABE 2019 conference, at CEPR European Conference on Household Finance 2019, at EEA Congress 2020 and at BEA seminar for their useful comments.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this report are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Think Forward Initiative - TFI - or any of its partners. Responsibility for the information, data and content in this article lies entirely with the authors.

Funding

The authors acknowledge Think Forward Initiative (TFI) for the research funding and ING for providing access to the anonymised data. Merike Kukk acknowledges financial support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 952574.

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Correspondence to Merike Kukk.

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Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11.

Table 4 Ownership of different account types and the balances on these accounts
Table 5 Sample summary statistics
Table 6 Estimation results for the difference in individual shares of financial assets in a family
Table 7 Estimation results for the difference in individual income, or income which is not pooled, in a family
Table 8 Estimation results for the difference in individual spending in a family
Table 9 Robustness checks for the estimation results for the difference in the individual share of financial assets in a family
Table 10 Estimation results for the difference in the individual shares of financial assets in a family by age group
Table 11 Estimation results for the difference in the individual share of financial assets in a family by product type

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Kukk, M., van Raaij, W.F. Joint and Individual Savings within Families: Evidence from Bank Accounts. J Fam Econ Iss 43, 511–533 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-021-09783-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-021-09783-3

Keywords

  • Family
  • Savings
  • Financial assets
  • Allocation of resources
  • Sharing rule
  • Pooling
  • Joint and individual
  • Bank accounts

JEL codes

  • G51
  • D13
  • D14
  • D31