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Unemployment, Participation and Worker Flows Over the Life Cycle


  • Sekyu Choi
  • Alexandre Janiak
  • Benjamín Villena-Roldán



We estimate and report life cycle transition probabilities between employment, unemployment and inactivity for male workers using Current Population Survey monthly files. We assess the relative importance of each probability in explaining the life cycle profiles of participation and unemployment rates using a novel decomposition method. A key robust finding is that most differences in participation and unemployment over the life cycle can be attributed to the probability of leaving employment and the probability of transiting from inactivity to unemployment, while transitions from unemployment to employment (the job finding probability) play secondary roles. We then show that a simple life cycle extension of a three-state labor search model with leisure shocks can qualitatively replicate the empirical unemployment and participation life cycle profiles, without introducing age or worker heterogeneity in market abilities. We conclude that models that seek to explain life cycle work patterns should not ignore transitions to and from inactivity. JEL Codes: D91, E24, J64.

Suggested Citation

  • Sekyu Choi & Alexandre Janiak & Benjamín Villena-Roldán, 2011. "Unemployment, Participation and Worker Flows Over the Life Cycle," Documentos de Trabajo 278, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  • Handle: RePEc:edj:ceauch:278

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Guido Menzio & Irina Telyukova & Ludo Visschers, 2016. "Directed Search over the Life Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 19, pages 38-62, January.
    2. Arnaud Chéron & Jean-Olivier Hairault & François Langot, 2013. "Life-Cycle Equilibrium Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(4), pages 843-882.
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    4. Pries, Michael & Rogerson, Richard, 2009. "Search frictions and labor market participation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 568-587, July.
    5. Gary Solon & Ryan Michaels & Michael W. L. Elsby, 2009. "The Ins and Outs of Cyclical Unemployment," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 84-110, January.
    6. Fernando Alvarez & Marcelo Veracierto, 2000. "Labor-Market Policies in an Equilibrium Search Model," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1999, Volume 14, pages 265-316 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Shigeru Fujita & Garey Ramey, 2009. "The Cyclicality Of Separation And Job Finding Rates," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(2), pages 415-430, May.
    8. Krusell, Per & Mukoyama, Toshihiko & Rogerson, Richard & Sahin, Aysegül, 2008. "Aggregate implications of indivisible labor, incomplete markets, and labor market frictions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(5), pages 961-979, July.
    9. Pietro Garibaldi & Etienne Wasmer, 2005. "Equilibrium Search Unemployment, Endogenous Participation, And Labor Market Flows," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(4), pages 851-882, June.
    10. Gary Hansen & Selahattin Imrohoroglu, 2008. "Consumption over the Life Cycle: The Role of Annuities," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(3), pages 566-583, July.
    11. Jean-Olivier Hairault & Francois Langot & Thepthida Sopraseuth, 2010. "Distance to Retirement and Older Workers' Employment: The Case for Delaying the Retirement Age," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(5), pages 1034-1076, September.
    12. Abowd, John M & Zellner, Arnold, 1985. "Estimating Gross Labor-Force Flows," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 254-283, June.
    13. Veracierto, Marcelo, 2008. "On the cyclical behavior of employment, unemployment and labor force participation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(6), pages 1143-1157, September.
    14. Alexandre Janiak & Paulo Santos Monteiro, 2010. "Labor force heterogeneity: implications for the relation between aggregate volatility and government size," Documentos de Trabajo 272, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hiroshi Teruyama & Hiroyuki Toda, 2017. "Polarization and Persistence in the Japanese Labor Market," KIER Working Papers 957, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    2. Rothe, Thomas & Wälde, Klaus, 2017. "Where did all the unemployed go? : Non-standard work in Germany after the Hartz reforms," IAB Discussion Paper 201718, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    3. Hairault, Jean-Olivier & Langot, François & Sopraseuth, Thepthida, 2014. "Why is Old Workers' Labor Market More Volatile? Unemployment Fluctuations over the Life-Cycle," IZA Discussion Papers 8076, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Valladares-Esteban, Arnau & Choi, Sekyu, 2016. "The marriage unemployment gap," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 1509, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
    5. Sekyu Choi, 2013. "On Households and Unemployment," 2013 Meeting Papers 992, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Janiak, Alexandre & Santos Monteiro, Paulo, 2016. "Towards a quantitative theory of automatic stabilizers: The role of demographics," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 35-49.
    7. Sarah Le Duigou & Pierre-Jean Messe, 2017. "Pension reforms, older workers' employment and the role of job separation and finding rates in France," TEPP Working Paper 2017-10, TEPP.
    8. Alberto Naudon & Andrés Pérez, 2017. "Unemployment Dynamics in Chile: 1960-2015," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 800, Central Bank of Chile.
    9. López-Martín Bernabé & Takayama Naoki, 2015. "The Blighted Youth: The Impact of Recessions and Policies on Life-Cycle Unemployment," Working Papers 2015-22, Banco de México.
    10. Yongsung Chang & Jay H. Hong & Marios Karabarbounis, 2014. "Labor-Market Uncertainty and Portfolio Choice Puzzles," RCER Working Papers 582, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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