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How Have Households Used Their Stimulus Payments and How Would They Spend the Next?
In this post, we examine how households used economic impact payments, a large component of the CARES Act signed into law on March 27 that directed stimulus payments to many Americans to help offset the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. An important question in evaluating how much this part of the CARES Act stimulated the economy concerns what share of these payments households used for consumption—what economists call the marginal propensity to consume (MPC). There also is interest in learning the extent to which the payments contributed to the sharp increase in the U.S. ...
Heterogeneity in the Marginal Propensity to Consume: Evidence from Covid-19 Stimulus Payments
We identify 16,016 recipients of Covid-19 Economic Impact Payments in anonymized transaction-level debit card data from Facteus. We use an event study framework to show that in the two weeks following a sudden $1,200 payment from the IRS, consumers immediately increased spending by an average of $577, implying a marginal propensity to consume (MPC) of 48%. Consumer spending falls back to normal levels after two weeks. Stimulus recipients who live paycheck-to-paycheck spend 68% of the stimulus payment immediately, while recipients who save much of their monthly income spend 23% of the stimulus ...
Why Cash Transfers Are Good Policy in the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an exceptionally large and negative impact on economic activity around the world. We show that cash transfers can be a useful policy tool during a pandemic. Cash transfers mitigate consumption inequality induced by the pandemic and provide incentives to individuals who are most negatively affected by lockdown policies to adhere to them.