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Children and Household Utility: Evidence from Kids Flying the Coop

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Publication Date:

Publisher(s): Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Author(s): Norma Coe; Anthony Webb


Special Collection:

Topic: Economics (Consumers and consumption)

Keywords: savings and consumption

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Using consumption and wealth data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), this paper explores the impact of children leaving home on household consumption. We find that households maintain their household-level consumption, despite the fact that the number of individuals in the household has decreased, increasing per-capita consumption. Further, we find no evidence of increases in total net wealth, or any of its components, after children leave the household. These findings suggest that households do not dramatically change their savings or consumption patterns when their children fly the coop. Those households who are already behind in their retirement preparations will remain at risk of entering retirement with insufficient wealth to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living.