Full research (Hebrew)

​Watch Arnon Barak, an economist at the reserch depratment, describes the main findings. 

·      The study, which
distinguishes between the short-term and long-term effects of private
consumption, finds that the level of private consumption in the long term is
determined mainly by income from labor and the financial assets held by
households, and that the value of homes and the state of the global economy, as
reflected in the volume of world trade, are also important.

·     In the short term,
volatility in private consumption is mainly the result of changes in the value
of financial assets, while changes in current income has an effect mainly
through income from transfer payments. 
In addition, there is no evidence that changes in the security situation
have an effect on consumption.  The
interest rate has a direct effect after one year (although not within one quarter).

 

Private consumption is the largest component of domestic product, and in
the past 20 years, its proportion of GDP has ranged around 55–60 percent.  Moreover, in the past three years, private
consumption has grown rapidly, and is the leading factor in GDP growth.
Therefore, private consumption is an important factor in forecasts and
macroeconomic analyses.

 

A study conducted by Arnon Barak of the Bank of Israel Research
Department has tried to identify and quantify the factors that affect private
consumption in Israel.

 

The study estimated the private consumption function in Israel between
1995 and 2015 through a standard error-correction model, while using quarterly
data through which the short-term effects can be identified.

 

The results of the estimation show that in the long term, consumption by
households is determined by permanent income from labor, while temporary
changes in income do not lead to changes in consumption.  An exception in this regard is income from
transfer payments, since that is translated for the most part into consumption
in the immediate term.  The reason for
this is that transfer payments are focused on population groups with relatively
low income levels, which suffer more from liquidity limitations.

 

In addition, the findings show that there is a ‘wealth effect”, which
means that private consumption is also affected by the assets held by
households.  The wealth effect of the
value of dwellings is lower than that of financial assets, due to the fact that
real assets are less liquid and more difficult to realize than financial
assets.

 

World trade also has an effect on private consumption in Israel.  An increase in world trade reflects an
improvement in the economic environment of households in Israel.  While most of the public does not keep track
of developments in world trade itself, it is, apparently, indirectly influenced
by this index through forecasts and analyses by various entities and their
publication through the press.

 

The interest rate is another factor that affects changes in private
consumption in the relatively short term. 
According to the results of the study, a decline in the interest rate
leads households to slightly increase current consumption at the expense of consumption
in a year (although there is no change in consumption within one quarter).

 

The results of the estimation provide no evidence that a change in the
security situation leads to a change in private consumption.  This result is surprising, because it runs
counter to intuition, which posits that a bad security situation deters
households from going to shopping areas, thereby impacting private
consumption.  However, there are a number
of possible explanations for this finding. 
One is that when the security situation worsens private consumption
declines in the immediate term, but then compensates for the decline within the
same quarter, such that over all, there is no negative impact to consumption as
reflected in the quarterly National Accounts data.  However, this is only a partial explanation,
because it is not always possible to replace what was not consumed at that time
(for instance, a vacation that was cancelled). 
There may be complementary explanations such as special discounts and
sales promotions by businesses, particularly hotels and guest houses, making
some purchases over the Internet rather than in person, and war-time
consumption, which is reflected for instance in increased consumption of food,
clothing and hygiene products that households purchase for security forces.  The results of the estimation show that these
effects may offset the negative effects of wars and terrorism on consumption.

 

Table 1: Coefficients of the main variables in the private
consumption function

(The data reflect elasticity, meaning
the rate of change in private consumption as a result of a one percent change
in the variable)

 

Variable

Long-term

Short-term

Income from labor

0.3

Not significantly
different from zero

Transfer payments

Not significantly
different from zero

0.1

Financial assets

0.2

0.15

Value of dwellings

0.05

0.1 (borderline
significant)

World trade

0.1

0.05

 

​​​