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Aggregate labor supply

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  • Edward C. Prescott
  • Johanna Wallenius

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward C. Prescott & Johanna Wallenius, 2012. "Aggregate labor supply," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Oct.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:2012:i:oct:n:v.35no.2
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Dufourt, Frédéric & Nishimura, Kazuo & Venditti, Alain, 2015. "Indeterminacy and sunspots in two-sector RBC models with generalized no-income-effect preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 1056-1080.
    2. Yongseok Shin & Ananth Seshadri & Rody Manuelli, 2012. "Lifetime Labor Supply and Human Capital Investment," 2012 Meeting Papers 946, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Guillaume Rocheteau & Peter Rupert & Randall Wright, 2008. "Inflation and Unemployment in General Equilibrium," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(4), pages 837-855, March.
    4. Üngör, Murat, 2014. "Some thought experiments on the changes in labor supply in Turkey," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 265-272.
    5. Alonso-Ortiz, Jorge, 2014. "Social security and retirement across the OECD," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 300-316.
    6. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J., 2008. "Taxes, benefits, and careers: Complete versus incomplete markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 98-125, January.
    7. Raj Chetty & Adam Guren & Day Manoli & Andrea Weber, 2013. "Does Indivisible Labor Explain the Difference between Micro and Macro Elasticities? A Meta-Analysis of Extensive Margin Elasticities," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-56.
    8. Michael Keane & Richard Rogerson, 2015. "Reconciling Micro and Macro Labor Supply Elasticities: A Structural Perspective," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 89-117, August.
    9. Jean-Baptiste Michau, 2011. "Optimal Redistribution with Intensive and Extensive Labor Supply Margins: A Life-Cycle Perspective," Working Papers hal-00639121, HAL.
    10. Lee, Grace H.Y. & Parasnis, Jaai, 2014. "Discouraged workers in developed countries and added workers in developing countries? Unemployment rate and labour force participation," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 90-98.

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    Keywords

    Labor supply;

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