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The Nature of Countercyclical Income Risk

Listed author(s):
  • Fatih Guvenen
  • Serdar Ozkan
  • Jae Song

We study business cycle variation in individual earnings risk using a confidential and very large data set from the US Social Security Administration. Contrary to past research, we find that the variance of idiosyncratic shocks is not countercyclical. Instead, it is the left-skewness of shocks that is strongly countercyclical: during recessions, large upward earnings movements become less likely, whereas large drops in earnings become more likely. Second, we find that the fortunes during recessions are predictable by observable characteristics before the recession. Finally, the cyclicality of earnings risk is dramatically different for the top 1 percent compared with the rest of the population.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/675535
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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/675535
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 122 (2014)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 621-660

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/675535
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

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  1. Constantinides, George M & Duffie, Darrell, 1996. "Asset Pricing with Heterogeneous Consumers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(2), pages 219-240, April.
  2. Serdar Ozkan & Jae Song & Fatih Karahan & Fatih Guvenen, 2013. "What Do Data on Millions of U.S. Workers Say About Labor Income Risk?," 2013 Meeting Papers 1271, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Sam Schulhofer-Wohl, 2011. "Heterogeneity and Tests of Risk Sharing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(5), pages 925-958.
  4. R. Anton Braun & Tomoyuki Nakajima, 2012. "Uninsured Countercyclical Risk: An Aggregation Result And Application To Optimal Monetary Policy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(6), pages 1450-1474, December.
  5. Abraham, Katharine G & Katz, Lawrence F, 1986. "Cyclical Unemployment: Sectoral Shifts or Aggregate Disturbances?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 507-522, June.
  6. Lilien, David M, 1982. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 777-793, August.
  7. Rui Castro & Daniele Coen-Pirani, 2008. "WHY HAVE AGGREGATE SKILLED HOURS BECOME SO CYCLICAL SINCE THE MID-1980s?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(1), pages 135-185, 02.
  8. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris I. Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2004. "Cyclical Dynamics in Idiosyncratic Labor Market Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 695-717, June.
  9. Alon Brav & George M. Constantinides & Christopher C. Geczy, 2002. "Asset Pricing with Heterogeneous Consumers and Limited Participation: Empirical Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 793-824, August.
  10. Almut Balleer & Thijs van Rens, 2013. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and the Business Cycle," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1222-1237, October.
  11. Giesecke, Matthias & Bönke, Timm & Lüthen, Holger, 2011. "The Dynamics of Earnings in Germany: Evidence from Social Security Records," Annual Conference 2011 (Frankfurt, Main): The Order of the World Economy - Lessons from the Crisis 48692, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  12. Mankiw, N. Gregory, 1986. "The equity premium and the concentration of aggregate shocks," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 211-219, September.
  13. Dynan Karen & Elmendorf Douglas & Sichel Daniel, 2012. "The Evolution of Household Income Volatility," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 1-42, December.
  14. Rui Castro & Daniele Coen-Pirani, "undated". "Why Have Aggregate Skilled Hours," GSIA Working Papers 2006-E27, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  15. Fatih Guvenen & Fatih Karahan & Serdar Ozkan & Jae Song, 2013. "What Do Data on Millions of U.S. Workers Say About Life Cycle Income Risk?," Working Papers wp302, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  16. Sabelhaus, John & Song, Jae, 2010. "The great moderation in micro labor earnings," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(4), pages 391-403, May.
  17. Wojciech Kopczuk & Emmanuel Saez & Jae Song, 2010. "Earnings Inequality and Mobility in the United States: Evidence from Social Security Data Since 1937," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 91-128.
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