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Aggregate labor supply

  • Edward C. Prescott
  • Johanna Wallenius

Macroeconomics has made tremendous advances following the introduction of labor supply into the field. Today, it is widely acknowledged that labor supply matters for many key economic issues, particularly for business cycles and tax policy analysis. However, the extent to which labor supply matters for such questions depends on the aggregate labor supply elasticity—that is, the sensitivity of the time allocation between market and nonmarket activities. For several decades, the magnitude of the aggregate labor supply elasticity has been the subject of much debate. In this article, we review the debate and conclude that the elasticity of labor supply of the aggregate household is much higher than the elasticity of the identical households being aggregated. The aggregate household utility function differs from the individuals’ utility functions for the same reason that the aggregate production function differs from the individual firms’ production functions being aggregated. The differences in individual and aggregate supply elasticities are what aggregation theory predicts.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its journal Quarterly Review.

Volume (Year): (2012)
Issue (Month): Oct ()
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:2012:i:oct:n:v.35no.2
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  1. Johanna Wallenius & Richard Rogerson, 2011. "Fixed Costs, Retirement and the Elasticity of Labor Supply," 2011 Meeting Papers 250, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Yongsung Chang & Sun-Bin Kim, 2006. "From Individual To Aggregate Labor Supply: A Quantitative Analysis Based On A Heterogeneous Agent Macroeconomy ," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(1), pages 1-27, 02.
  3. Heckman, James J & Macurdy, Thomas E, 1980. "A Life Cycle Model of Female Labour Supply," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 47-74, January.
  4. Ohanian, Lee & Raffo, Andrea & Rogerson, Richard, 2008. "Long-term changes in labor supply and taxes: Evidence from OECD countries, 1956-2004," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1353-1362, November.
  5. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
  6. Hartog,Joop & Maassen van den Brink,Henriëtte (ed.), 2007. "Human Capital," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521873161.
  7. Nezih Guner & Remzi Kaygusuz & Gustavo Ventura, 2012. "Taxation and Household Labour Supply," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(3), pages 1113-1149.
  8. Richard Rogerson, 2007. "Taxation and market work: is Scandinavia an outlier?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 59-85, July.
  9. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
  10. Edward C. Prescott & Richard Rogerson & Johanna Wallenius, 2007. "Lifetime aggregate labor supply with endogenous workweek length," Staff Report 400, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. Susumu Imai & Michael P. Keane, 2004. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Human Capital Accumulation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 601-641, 05.
  12. Richard Rogerson & Johanna Wallenius, 2007. "Micro and Macro Elasticities in a Life Cycle Model With Taxes," NBER Working Papers 13017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Pistaferri, Luigi, 2002. "Anticipated and Unanticipated Wage Changes, Wage Risk, and Intertemporal Labour Supply," CEPR Discussion Papers 3628, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Cho, J-O. & Cooley, T.F., 1988. "Employment And Hours Over The Business Cycle," Papers 88-03, Rochester, Business - General.
  15. Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Kitao, Sagiri, 2009. "Labor supply elasticity and social security reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 867-878, August.
  16. David Domeij & Martin Floden, 2006. "The Labor-Supply Elasticity and Borrowing Constraints: Why Estimates are Biased," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 242-262, April.
  17. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-85, December.
  18. Joseph Altonji, 1984. "Intertemporal Substitution in Labor Supply: Evidence from Micro Data," Working Papers 562, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  19. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  20. Casey B. Mulligan, . "The Intertemporal Substitution of Work--What Does the Evidence Say?," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 95-11, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  21. Johanna Wallenius, 2011. "Human Capital Accumulation and the Intertemporal Elasticity of Substitution of Labor: How Large is the Bias?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 14(4), pages 577-591, October.
  22. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1969. "Real Wages, Employment, and Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 721-54, Sept./Oct.
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