Discussion paper

DP18047 Old Age Risks, Consumption, and Insurance

In the U.S, after age 65, households face income and health risks and a large fraction of these risks are transitory. While consumption significantly responds to transitory income shocks, out-of-pocket medical expenses do not. In contrast, both consumption and out-of-pocket medical expenses respond to transitory health shocks. Thus, most U.S. elderly keep their out-of-pocket medical expenses close to a satiation point that varies with health. Consumption responds to health shocks mostly because adverse health shocks reduce the marginal utility of consumption. The effect of health on marginal utility changes the optimal transfers due to health shocks.


Blundell, R, M Borella, J Commault and M De Nardi (2023), ‘DP18047 Old Age Risks, Consumption, and Insurance‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18047. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18047