DP10698 The Consumption Response to Liquidity-Enhancing Transfers: Evidence from Italian Earthquakes

Author(s): Antonio Acconcia, Giancarlo Corsetti, Saverio Simonelli
Publication Date: July 2015
Keyword(s): Consumption, Liquidity, Mortgage, Public Transfers, Quasi-experiments
JEL(s): E21, E61
Programme Areas: Monetary Economics and Fluctuations
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10698

Exploiting three Italian earthquakes as quasi-experiments, we analyze the response of homeowners' consumption to targeted transfers, financing housing reconstruction over time. Like loans, these transfers mainly affect the liquidity of households' wealth in the short run: we show that they have no effect on consumption over a multi-year horizon. Yet, the access to reconstruction funds has significantly heterogeneous effects on impact: it strongly raises non-durable consumption by households with low liquidity and bank debt (the `wealthy-hand-to-mouth'); it makes no difference for liquid households. Consistently, in either group, consumption is insensitive to transfer funds that accrue directly to firms.