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Katharina Bergant, Miss Anke Weber, and Andrea Medici

consumption smoothing: people can save when income is temporarily high and borrow when it is temporarily low. A retired couple living off their savings may be living quite comfortably even if they have no income. Second, consumption measures will reflect the loss in wealth if asset values fall. It will also reflect consumption out of durables such as housing and cars. Third, consumption is more likely than income to be affected by access to public insurance programs. Thus, it will do a better job of capturing the effects of changes in the government safety net. All of the