Consumption and the Aggregate Expenditures Model

Read this chapter to examine consumption and its determinants within the aggregate expenditures model. Consumption is the largest component of Aggregate Demand the United States, therefore, the factors that determine consumption, also determine the success of the economy.

13.2 The Aggregate Expenditures Model


  1. Explain and illustrate the aggregate expenditures model and the concept of equilibrium real GDP.
  2. Distinguish between autonomous and induced aggregate expenditures and explain why a change in autonomous expenditures leads to a multiplied change in equilibrium real GDP.
  3. Discuss how adding taxes, government purchases, and net exports to a simplified aggregate expenditures model affects the multiplier and hence the impact on real GDP that arises from an initial change in autonomous expenditures.

The consumption function relates the level of consumption in a period to the level of disposable personal income in that period. In this section, we incorporate other components of aggregate demand: investment, government purchases, and net exports. In doing so, we shall develop a new model of the determination of equilibrium real GDP, the aggregate expenditures model. This model relates aggregate expenditures, which equal the sum of planned levels of consumption, investment, government purchases, and net exports at a given price level, to the level of real GDP. We shall see that people, firms, and government agencies may not always spend what they had planned to spend. If so, then actual real GDP will not be the same as aggregate expenditures, and the economy will not be at the equilibrium level of real GDP.

One purpose of examining the aggregate expenditures model is to gain a deeper understanding of the "ripple effects" from a change in one or more components of aggregate demand. As we saw in the chapter that introduced the aggregate demand and aggregate supply model, a change in investment, government purchases, or net exports leads to greater production; this creates additional income for households, which induces additional consumption, leading to more production, more income, more consumption, and so on. The aggregate expenditures model provides a context within which this series of ripple effects can be better understood. A second reason for introducing the model is that we can use it to derive the aggregate demand curve for the model of aggregate demand and aggregate supply.

To see how the aggregate expenditures model works, we begin with a very simplified model in which there is neither a government sector nor a foreign sector. Then we use the findings based on this simplified model to build a more realistic model. The equations for the simplified economy are easier to work with, and we can readily apply the conclusions reached from analyzing a simplified economy to draw conclusions about a more realistic one.