Enrico Perotti, 16 December 2016

Per-capita income in developed countries has stagnated, which most economists regard as a departure from the long-run trend. This column argues that zero long-term growth will be the new normal. In this zero-growth world, spending increases must always be balanced against spending reductions elsewhere or in the future, which creates a further problem: no politician could implement policy changes with such bleak outcomes.

Joshua Aizenman, Yin-Wong Cheung, Hiro Ito, 03 December 2016

Conventional logic suggests that lowering the policy interest rate will stimulate consumption and investment while discouraging people from saving, but low interest rates may also prompt people to increase their saving to compensate for the low rate of return. Using data on 135 countries from 1995 to 2014, this column shows that a low-interest rate environment can yield different effects on private saving across country groups under different economic environments. A well-developed financial market, an ageing population, and output volatility can all contribute towards turning the relationship between interest rates and saving negative.

Charles Yuji Horioka, Akiko Terada-Hagiwara, 06 September 2016

China’s one-child policy and a general preference for sons increased competition among grooms, whose families typically bear marriage expenses. This is believed to have increased household saving in the country. This column explores whether the same is observed in other countries with unbalanced sex ratios. Premarital sex ratios are found to have a significant impact on household saving rates in India and Korea, with the direction of the effect dependent on whether the bride’s (India) or groom’s (Korea) family is typically expected to bear the brunt of marriage-related expenses.

Joshua Aizenman, Ilan Noy, 29 May 2013

What do macroeconomic shocks do to public and private saving? This column argues that it is only truly dramatic shocks that have a long-lasting effect on saving behaviour. Past crises tend to increase savings among households, but they also lead to decreased public-sector saving. However, the evidence suggests that this decrease in public saving is about a third of the magnitude than the corresponding increase in household saving.

Raman Ahmed, Heleen Mees, 28 August 2012

China’s huge savings are met with both awe and suspicion. This column asks what explains the high savings rate. It uses data from 1960 to 2009 – including the periods with the most significant economic reforms.