Impacts of Cash Transfers on Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from Japanese Special Cash Payment

Author Name UNAYAMA Takashi (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / KOMURA Norihiro (Kyoto University) / HATTORI Takahiro (University of Tokyo)
Creation Date/NO. April 2021 21-J-022
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We estimate the marginal propensity to consume (MPC) for households benefiting from the large cash transfers in the form of the Special Cash Payment in Japan provided during the COVID-19 pandemic. The MPC is identified by exploiting differences in the timing of their payments across municipalities. The estimated MPC is around 10 percent, which is comparable in magnitude to the MPCs in previous studies, suggesting that even during the COVID-19 pandemic the impact of cash transfers on household consumption did not differ from that under normal times. In addition, consumption was classified based on infection risk for COVID-19, and the MPCs for those subcategories are estimated separately. We find that consumers did not increase spending on "face-to-face services," which would increase infection risk, while increasing spending on "goods/services purchased at home" and "goods/services purchased at stores." Cash transfers did not induce consumers to increase consumption that involved higher infection risk.

The English version of this paper is 21-E-043.