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Consumption Commitments and Employment Contracts


  • Andrew Postlewaite
  • Larry Samuelson
  • Dan Silverman


We examine an economy in which the cost of consuming some goods can be reduced by making commitments that reduce flexibility. We show that such consumption commitments can induce consumers with risk-neutral underlying utility functions to be risk averse over small variations in income, but sometimes to seek risk over large variations. As a result, optimal employment contracts will smooth wages conditional on being employed, but may incorporate a possibility of unemployment. Copyright 2008, Wiley-Blackwell.
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  • Andrew Postlewaite & Larry Samuelson & Dan Silverman, 2006. "Consumption Commitments and Employment Contracts," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000145, UCLA Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:321307000000000145

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. George A. Akerlof & Hajime Miyazaki, 1980. "The Implicit Contract Theory of Unemployment meets the Wage Bill Argument," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(2), pages 321-338.
    2. Ellingsen, Tore & Holden, Steinar, 1997. "Indebtedness and Unemployment: A Durable Relationship," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 186, Stockholm School of Economics.
    3. Martin Neil Baily, 1974. "Wages and Employment under Uncertain Demand," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 37-50.
    4. Raj Chetty & Adam Szeidl, 2007. "Consumption Commitments and Risk Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 831-877.
    5. Ellingsen, Tore & Holden, Steinar, 1995. "Sticky Consumption and Rigid Wages," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 62, Stockholm School of Economics.
    6. Stephen H. Shore & Todd Sinai, 2010. "Commitment, Risk, and Consumption: Do Birds of a Feather Have Bigger Nests?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 408-424, May.
    7. Azariadis, Costas, 1975. "Implicit Contracts and Underemployment Equilibria," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(6), pages 1183-1202, December.
    8. Adam Szeidl & Raj Chetty, 2004. "Consumption Commitments and Asset Prices," 2004 Meeting Papers 354, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Adam Szeidl & Raj Chetty, 2005. "Consumption Commitments: Neoclassical Foundations for Habit Formation," 2005 Meeting Papers 122, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guiso, Luigi & Sodini, Paolo, 2013. "Household Finance: An Emerging Field," Handbook of the Economics of Finance, Elsevier.
    2. David Weiss & Cezar Santos, 2011. "Why Not Settle Down Already? A Quantitative Question," 2011 Meeting Papers 921, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Douglas W. Blackburn & Andrey D. Ukhov, 2013. "Individual vs. Aggregate Preferences: The Case of a Small Fish in a Big Pond," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(2), pages 470-484, August.
    4. Schroyen, Fred, 2011. "Attitudes towards income risk in the presence of quantity constraints," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 7/2011, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    5. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2008. "Minimally altruistic wages and unemployment in a matching model with monopsony," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(Supplemen), pages 97-110, October.
    6. Drewianka, Scott, 2008. "Constrained labor supply and risk-aversion," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 130-133, November.
    7. University of Iowa & Galina Vereshchagina, 2007. "Preferences for risk in a dynamic model with consumption commitments," 2007 Meeting Papers 567, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Sommer, Kamila, 2016. "Fertility choice in a life cycle model with idiosyncratic uninsurable earnings risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 27-38.
    9. Luigi Guiso, 2014. "Risk Aversion and Financial Crisis," EIEF Working Papers Series 1412, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Dec 2014.
    10. Decreuse, Bruno & van Ypersele, Tanguy, 2011. "Housing market regulation and the social demand for job protection," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1397-1409.
    11. Davidoff, Thomas, 2010. "Home equity commitment and long-term care insurance demand," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 44-49, February.
    12. SCHROYEN, Fred, 2011. "Attitudes towards income risk in the presence of quantity constraints," CORE Discussion Papers 2011020, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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