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Job Search and Savings: Wealth Effects and Duration Dependence

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  • Rasmus Lenz
  • Torben Tranæs

Abstract

In this paper we consider a risk averse worker who is moving back and forth between employment and unemployment; layoffs are random and beyond the worker's influcence, while the re-employment chance is directly affected by search effort. We characterize the worker's optimal savings and job-search behavior as well as the resulting consumption paths and wealth formation. In general, all decisions will depend on the current level of wealth: First, the choice of search effort increases as wealth decreases; a finding which is in accordance with our empirical duration analysis using micro data on unemployment spells. Second, consumption increases with wealth both when the worker is employed and unemployed. Third, savings provide insurance against income fluctuations but this insurance is not perfect; precautionary savings are built up during employment spells and run down during unemployment spells but the consumption path is never going to be completely smooth over states. Finally, our results suggest that the worker's search intensity and hence the probability of leaving unemployment will exhibit positive duration dependence over unemployment spells via its inverse relationship with the worker's wealth.

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Paper provided by Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series EPRU Working Paper Series with number 01-10.

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Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:01-10

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  1. Steven Shavell & Laurence Weiss, 1978. "The Optimal Payment of Unemployment Insurance Benefits over Time," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 503, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-82, July.
  3. Browning, M. & Crossley, T., 1999. "Shocks, Stocks and Socks: Consumption Smoothing and the Replacement of Durables During an Unemployment Spell," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 1999-376, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
  4. Williamson, Stephen D. & Wang, Cheng, 1999. "Moral Hazard, Optimal Unemployment Insurance, and Experience Rating," Working Papers 99-03, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1998. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 6686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Phelan, C. & Townsend, R.M., 1990. "Computing Multiperiod, Information-Constrained Optima," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 90-13, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  7. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Dale T. Mortensen, 1977. "Unemployment insurance and job search decisions," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(4), pages 505-517, July.
  9. Diamond, Peter A, 1982. "Wage Determination and Efficiency in Search Equilibrium," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(2), pages 217-27, April.
  10. van den Berg, Gerard J & van Ours, Jan C, 1996. "Unemployment Dynamics and Duration Dependence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 100-125, January.
  11. McCall, John J, 1970. "Economics of Information and Job Search," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 113-26, February.
  12. Hopenhayn, Hugo A & Nicolini, Juan Pablo, 1997. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 412-38, April.
  13. Kenneth Burdett & Dale T. Mortensen, 1977. "Labor Supply Under Uncertainty," Discussion Papers 297, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  14. Berg, G. van den & Ours, J.C. van, 1996. "Unemployment dynamics and duration dependence," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-86874, Tilburg University.
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