IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/5200.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Insurance and Opportunities: The Welfare Implications of Rising Wage Dispersion

Author

Listed:
  • Heathcote, Jonathan
  • Storesletten, Kjetil
  • Violante, Giovanni L

Abstract

This paper analyses the welfare effects of changes in cross-sectional wage dispersion, using a class of tractable heterogeneous-agent economies. We emphasize a trade-off in the welfare calculation that arises when labour supply is endogenous. On the one hand, as wage uncertainty rises, so does the cost associated with missing insurance markets. On the other hand, greater wage inequality presents opportunities to increase aggregate productivity by concentrating market work among more productive workers. We find that the observed rise in wage dispersion in the United States over the past three decades implies a welfare loss roughly equivalent to a 2.5% decline in lifetime consumption. Assuming Cobb-Douglas preferences, this number is the result of a welfare gain of around 5% from the endogenous increase in productivity coupled with a loss of around 7.5% associated with greater volatility in consumption and leisure.

Suggested Citation

  • Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2005. "Insurance and Opportunities: The Welfare Implications of Rising Wage Dispersion," CEPR Discussion Papers 5200, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5200
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5200
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Tom Krebs & Pravin Krishna & William Maloney, 2010. "Trade Policy, Income Risk, and Welfare," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 467-481, August.
    2. Bewley, Truman, 1983. "A Difficulty with the Optimum Quantity of Money," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1485-1504, September.
    3. Deaton, Angus, 1991. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(5), pages 1221-1248, September.
    4. Antonio Rangel & Richard Zeckhauser, 2001. "Can Market and Voting Institutions Generate Optimal Intergenerational Risk Sharing?," NBER Chapters, in: Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform, pages 113-152, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695, Elsevier.
    6. David K. Levine & William R. Zame, 2002. "Does Market Incompleteness Matter?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1805-1839, September.
    7. Attanasio, Orazio & Davis, Steven J, 1996. "Relative Wage Movements and the Distribution of Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1227-1262, December.
    8. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2004. "On the Welfare Consequences of the Increase in Inequality in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 83-138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2006. "Precautionary Savings or Working Longer Hours?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 326-352, April.
    10. Stephen P. Zeldes, 1989. "Optimal Consumption with Stochastic Income: Deviations from Certainty Equivalence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(2), pages 275-298.
    11. Huggett, Mark & Ventura, Gustavo & Yaron, Amir, 2006. "Human capital and earnings distribution dynamics," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 265-290, March.
    12. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555, Elsevier.
    13. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
    14. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 681-722, August.
    15. O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
    16. Gianluca Violante & Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten, 2005. "A Tractable Framework for Understanding Dispersion in Labor Supply and Consumption," 2005 Meeting Papers 291, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    17. 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.
    18. Christopher D. Carroll, 1997. "Buffer-Stock Saving and the Life Cycle/Permanent Income Hypothesis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 1-55.
    19. Roland Benabou, 2002. "Tax and Education Policy in a Heterogeneous-Agent Economy: What Levels of Redistribution Maximize Growth and Efficiency?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 481-517, March.
    20. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633, Elsevier.
    21. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2004. "The Cross-Sectional Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 4296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    22. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality and Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640.
    23. Floden, Martin, 2001. "The effectiveness of government debt and transfers as insurance," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 81-108, August.
    24. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
    25. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 2003. "Macroeconomic Priorities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 1-14, March.
    26. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2008. "Consumption Inequality and Partial Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1887-1921, December.
    27. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
    28. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Life Cycle Consumption and Labor Supply: An Explanation of the Relationship Between Income and Consumption Over the Life Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(1), pages 188-194, March.
    29. John Y. Campbell & Martin Feldstein, 2001. "Risk Aspects of Investment-Based Social Security Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number camp01-1, June.
    30. Rios-Rull, Jose-Victor, 1994. "On the quantitative importance of market completeness," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 463-496, December.
    31. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L., 2008. "Insurance and opportunities: A welfare analysis of labor market risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 501-525, April.
    2. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2014. "Consumption and Labor Supply with Partial Insurance: An Analytical Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2075-2126, July.
    3. Dai, Xinchen & Li, Jing, 2021. "Inequality of opportunity in China: Evidence from pseudo panel data," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    4. Athreya, Kartik & Tam, Xuan S. & Young, Eric R., 2009. "Unsecured credit markets are not insurance markets," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 83-103, January.
    5. Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2006. "Precautionary Savings or Working Longer Hours?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 326-352, April.
    6. Corbae, Dean & D'Erasmo, Pablo & Kuruscu, Burhanettin, 2009. "Politico-economic consequences of rising wage inequality," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 43-61, January.
    7. Lagakos, David & Ordoñez, Guillermo L., 2011. "Which workers get insurance within the firm?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(6), pages 632-645.
    8. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2005. "The Research Agenda: Dirk Krueger and Fabrizio Perri on Risk Sharing across Households, Generations and Countries," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(2), April.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L., 2008. "Insurance and opportunities: A welfare analysis of labor market risk," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 501-525, April.
    2. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2014. "Consumption and Labor Supply with Partial Insurance: An Analytical Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2075-2126, July.
    3. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 681-722, August.
    4. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Quantitative Macroeconomics with Heterogeneous Households," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 319-354, May.
    5. Greg Kaplan & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "How Much Consumption Insurance beyond Self-Insurance?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 53-87, October.
    6. repec:zbw:cfswop:wp200515 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2002. "Does Income Inequality Lead to Consumption Inequality? Evidence and Theory," NBER Working Papers 9202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2004. "The Cross-Sectional Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 4296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Matteo Iacoviello, 2008. "Household Debt and Income Inequality, 1963–2003," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(5), pages 929-965, August.
    10. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Itay Saporta-Eksten, 2016. "Consumption Inequality and Family Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(2), pages 387-435, February.
    11. Andreas Fuster & Paul S. Willen, 2011. "Insuring Consumption Using Income-Linked Assets," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 15(4), pages 835-873.
    12. Ortigueira, Salvador & Siassi, Nawid, 2013. "How important is intra-household risk sharing for savings and labor supply?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(6), pages 650-666.
    13. Reichling, Felix, 2006. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in Labor Market Equilibrium when Workers can Self-Insure," MPRA Paper 5362, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 16 Oct 2007.
    14. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 687-712, June.
    15. Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States: 1967-2006," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 15-51, January.
    16. Naohito Abe & Noriko Inakura & Tomoaki Yamada, 2007. "Consumption, Working Hours, and Wealth Determination in a Life Cycle Model," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 07-E-14, Bank of Japan.
    17. Dirk Krueger & Fabrizio Perri, 2004. "On the Welfare Consequences of the Increase in Inequality in the United States," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2003, Volume 18, pages 83-138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Tom Krebs & Pravin Krishna & William Maloney, 2010. "Trade Policy, Income Risk, and Welfare," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 467-481, August.
    19. Benhabib, Jess & Bisin, Alberto & Zhu, Shenghao, 2015. "The wealth distribution in Bewley economies with capital income risk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 489-515.
    20. Clemens, Christiane & Heinemann, Maik, 2015. "Endogenous growth and wealth inequality under incomplete markets and idiosyncratic risk," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 300-317.
    21. Josep Pijoan-Mas, 2006. "Precautionary Savings or Working Longer Hours?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 326-352, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    insurance; labour supply; productivity; wage dispersion; welfare;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5200. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.cepr.org .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.