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Uninsurable individual risk and the cyclical behavior of unemployment and vacancies

  • Enchuan Shao
  • Pedro Silos

This paper is concerned with the business cycle dynamics in search-and-matching models of the labor market when agents are ex post heterogeneous. We focus on wealth heterogeneity that comes as a result of imperfect opportunities to insure against idiosyncratic risk. We show that this heterogeneity implies wage rigidity relative to a complete insurance economy. The fraction of wealth-poor agents prevents real wages from falling too much in recessions since small decreases in income imply large losses in utility. Analogously, wages rise less in expansions compared with the standard model because small increases are enough for poor workers to accept job offers. This mechanism reduces the volatility of wages and increases the volatility of vacancies and unemployment. This channel can be relevant if the lack of insurance is large enough so that the fraction of agents close to the borrowing constraint is significant. However, discipline in the parameterization implies an earnings variance and persistence in the unemployment state that result in a large degree of self-insurance.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 2007-05.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2007-05
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  1. Andolfatto, David, 1996. "Business Cycles and Labor-Market Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 112-32, March.
  2. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
  3. Leena Rudanko, 2006. "Labor Market Dynamics under Long Term Wage Contracting," 2006 Meeting Papers 314, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  5. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, June.
  6. Joao Gomes & Jeremy Greenwood & Sergio T. Rebelo, 2001. "Equilibrium Unemployment," RCER Working Papers 479, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  7. Merz, Monika, 1995. "Search in the labor market and the real business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 269-300, November.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 893-928, October.
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