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Can a Representative-Agent Model Represent a Heterogeneous-Agent Economy?

  • Sungbae An


  • Yongsung Chang
  • Sun-Bin Kim

Accounting for observed fluctuations in aggregate employment, consumption, and real wage using the optimality conditions of a representative household requires preferences that are incompatible with economic priors. In order to reconcile theory with data, we construct a model with heterogeneous agents whose decisions are difficult to aggregate because of incomplete capital markets and the indivisible nature of labor supply. If we were to explain the model-generated aggregate time series using decisions of a stand-in household, such a household must have a non-concave or unstable utility as is often found with the aggregate U.S. data.

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Paper provided by East Asian Bureau of Economic Research in its series Microeconomics Working Papers with number 22056.

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Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:eab:microe:22056
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  1. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2006. "Business cycle accounting," Staff Report 328, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Yongsung Chang & Sun-Bin Kim, 2006. "From Individual To Aggregate Labor Supply: A Quantitative Analysis Based On A Heterogeneous Agent Macroeconomy ," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(1), pages 1-27, 02.
  3. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
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  6. Yongsung Chang & Sun-Bin Kim, 2007. "Heterogeneity and Aggregation: Implications for Labor-Market Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1939-1956, December.
  7. Hall, Robert E, 1997. "Macroeconomic Fluctuations and the Allocation of Time," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S223-50, January.
  8. Dunn, Kenneth B. & Singleton, Kenneth J., 1986. "Modeling the term structure of interest rates under non-separable utility and durability of goods," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 27-55, September.
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  10. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-85, December.
  11. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
  12. Scheinkman, Jose A & Weiss, Laurence, 1986. "Borrowing Constraints and Aggregate Economic Activity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(1), pages 23-45, January.
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  15. Gary Solon & Robert Barsky & Jonathan A. Parker, 1994. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important is Composition Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-25.
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