Norges Bank

Staff Memo

Why do Norwegians increase their savings when the interest rate is cut?

Gro M. Liane
Staff Memo

This note aims to shed light on the relationship between interest rates and household savings in Norway. To this end, I use a simple life-cycle model that accounts for actual debt levels of Norwegian households. The starting point is that since Norwegian households tend to have negative net financial wealth, a low interest rate makes them better off. In a nutshell, reduced interest rate payments can be viewed as a transitory income increase. When households wish to smooth consumption, only a small fraction of the transitory income gift will be consumed, while most of the reduced income payments will be saved for consumption in future periods. Hence, a life-cycle model is able to explain why households increase savings when interest rates are low.

Staff Memos present reports and documentation written by staff members and affiliates of Norges Bank, the central bank of Norway. Views and conclusions expressed in Staff Memos should not be taken to represent the views of Norges Bank.

ISSN 1504-2596 (online)

Published 26 June 2013 13:30
Published 26 June 2013 13:30