We study consumption of durable and nondurable goods when the durable good is subject to transaction costs. In the model, agents derive utility from a service flow of a durable good and a consumption flow of a nondurable good. The key feature of the model is the existence of a fixed transaction cost in the durable good market. The fixed cost induces an inaction region in the purchase of the durable good. More importantly, the inability to adjust the durable stock induces variation in consumption of the nondurable good over the inaction region. The variation is a function of the degree of complementarity between durable and nondurable goods in the period utility function, the rate of intertemporal substitution, and a precautionary motive induced by incomplete markets. We test the model using the PSID. Housing serves as the durable good. The data indicate an increase in consumption before moving to a smaller house and a decrease in consumption before moving to a larger house. This result is consistent with the model when there exists complementarity between the durable and nondurable good or when there is a strong precautionary effect.
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Last update: August 21, 2002