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Welfare Cost of Business Cycles When Markets Are Incomplete

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Abstract

This paper analyzes the welfare effects of business cycles when workers face uninsurable idiosyncratic labor income risk that has a cyclical component. In accordance with the recent literature, this paper assumes that eliminating business cycles amounts to integrating out aggregate shocks (the integration principle) and that idiosyncratic shocks and aggregate shocks are stochastically independent (the independence assumption). This paper provides two arguments why the previous literature has underestimated the welfare costs of business cycles. First, the welfare cost of business cycles are in general indeterminate, and the previous literature has only reported the lower bound that is consistent with the data. In a simple example calibrated to match the observed cyclical variations in displacement probabilities, the lower bound is .35 percent of average consumption and the upper bound is 1.39 percent (using log-utility). Second, the previous literature has only focused on cyclical variations in job displacement (unemployment) probabilities, but neglected cyclical variations in the average income loss of displaced workers. In a simple calibrated example, the introduction of cyclical variations in the average income loss of displaced workers increases the lower bound from .35 percent of average consumption to .94 percent and the upper bound from 1.39 percent to 1.89 percent (again for log-utility)
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  • Tom Krebs, 2004. "Welfare Cost of Business Cycles When Markets Are Incomplete," Working Papers 2004-08, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2004-08
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    16. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Chris I. & Yaron, Amir, 2001. "The welfare cost of business cycles revisited: Finite lives and cyclical variation in idiosyncratic risk," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(7), pages 1311-1339.
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    JEL classification:

    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets

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