Personal Experience and Savings Behaviour

Prof. Dr. Sibylle Lehmann-Hasemeyer, Stuttgart (Principal Investigator)

Prof. Dr. Jochen Streb, Mannheim (Principal Investigator)


Just as individual purchasing decisions reveal information about underlying preferences that are not directly observable, saving decisions of households provide information about their (changing) expectations about future events. The savings activity of a household may increase if it plans high expenditures in the future (because of house construction or education costs of the children) or wants to hedge against negative shocks (illness, unemployment). A decline in savings activity is to be expected, among other things, if the saver has to fear that her deposits will be threatened by economic or political crises (inflation, state bankruptcy, war, expropriation by a predatory state). However, incentives to save less also arise when the state offers the household the prospect of higher state transfers (e.g. pensions, unemployment benefits). Of particular interest in this context is the type of information on the basis of which savers arrive at their pessimistic or optimistic expectations. The selection and processing of certain information by the media will play a role here, as will direct economic signals such as changes in real interest rates. Based on the work of Malmendier and Nagel, we assume that the personal experience of a saver will play a decisive role in determining what expectations she has and what decisions she makes. For example, it can be assumed that households that have suffered from high inflation in the past are more precautious than "inexperienced" new savers. In this project, we plan to investigate the savings behaviour of German households between 1871 and 1970. This period contains economic and political crises that should have had a lasting influence on the savings behaviour of individuals. For example, the founder boom and crisis, First World War, inflation of 1923, Great Depression with banking crisis, Second World War and currency reform of 1948. As data sources we use historical savings books and general ledgers of savings banks, household books and ego documents.



Sibylle Lehmann-Hasemeyer, Andreas Neumayer, Jochen Streb, "Heterogeneous inflation and deflation experiences and savings decisions during German industrialization," Journal of Banking & Finance,Volume 154, 2023.

Lehmann-Hasemeyer, S. & Opitz, A. (2019): The value of active politicians on supervisory boards: evidence from the Berlin stock exchange and the parliament in interwar Germany, in: Scandinavian Economic History Review, 67(1), 71-89.

Lehmann-Hasemeyer, S. & Neumayer, A. (2019): Does the preference for investment in local firms rise in turbulent times? Evidence from the portfolio of Joseph Frisch, private banker (1923–55), in: Journal of Business History/Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte, 64(1), 1-18.

Lehmann-Hasemeyer, S./Wahl, F. (2020): Saving banks and the Industrial Revolution in Prussia - supporting regional development with public financial institutions. in: Hohenheimer Discussion papers, 18-2017; Economic History Review,

Lehmann-Hasemeyer, S., & Streb, J. (2020). Discrimination against Foreigners: The Wuerttemberg Patent Law in Administrative Practice, in: The Journal of Economic History, 1-30.

Guinnane, Timothy W./ Streb, Jochen: The Introduction of Bismarck’s Social Security System and its Effects on Marriage and Fertility in Prussia, in: Population and Development Review 47,3 (2021), p. 749-780.