IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Pandemic labor force participation and net worth fluctuations


  • Miguel Faria-e-Castro
  • Samuel Jordan-Wood


The U.S. labor force participation rate (LFPR) experienced a record drop during the early pandemic. While it has since recovered to 62.2% as of December 2022, it was still 1.41 pp below its pre-pandemic peak. This gap is explained mostly by a permanent decline in the LFPR for workers older than 55. This paper argues that wealth effects driven by the historically high returns in major asset classes such as stocks and housing may have influenced these trends. Combining an estimated model of wealth effects on labor supply with micro data on balance sheet composition, we show that changes in net worth caused by realized returns explain half of the drop in LFPR in the 2020-21 period and over 80% of "excess retirements'' during the same period.

Suggested Citation

  • Miguel Faria-e-Castro & Samuel Jordan-Wood, 2023. "Pandemic labor force participation and net worth fluctuations," Working Papers 2023-010, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:96079
    DOI: 10.20955/wp.2023.010

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Full text
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Victoria Gregory, 2023. "Labor Force Exiters around Recessions: Who Are They?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 105(1), pages 9-20, January.
    2. Ing-Haw Cheng & Eric French, 2000. "The effect of the run-up in the stock market on labor supply," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, vol. 25(Q IV), pages 48-65.
    3. Guido W. Imbens & Donald B. Rubin & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2001. "Estimating the Effect of Unearned Income on Labor Earnings, Savings, and Consumption: Evidence from a Survey of Lottery Players," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 778-794, September.
    4. Mary C. Daly & Bart Hobijn & Joyce Kwok, 2009. "Labor supply responses to changes in wealth and credit," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue jan30.
    5. Didem Tuzemen, 2022. "How Many Workers Are Truly “Missing” from the Labor Force?," Economic Bulletin, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue May 6, 20, pages 1-4, May.
    6. Dain Lee & Jinhyeok Park & Yongseok Shin, 2024. "Where Are the Workers? From Great Resignation to Quiet Quitting," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 106(1), pages 59-71, January.
    7. David A. Benson & Eric French, 2011. "How do sudden large losses in wealth affect labor force participation?," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Jan.
    8. Miguel Faria-e-Castro, 2022. "Asset Returns and Labor Force Participation During COVID-19," Economic Synopses, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, pages 1-2, January.
    9. Gopi Shah Goda & John B. Shoven & Sita Nataraj Slavov, 2011. "What Explains Changes in Retirement Plans during the Great Recession?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 29-34, May.
    10. Bart Hobijn & Ayşegül Şahin, 2022. ""Missing" Workers and "Missing" Jobs Since the Pandemic," Working Paper Series WP 2022-54, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    11. Lisa J. Dettling & Joanne W. Hsu, 2014. "The State of Young Adults’ Balance Sheets: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 96(4), pages 305-330.
    12. Bo Zhao, 2018. "Too Poor to Retire? Housing Prices and Retirement," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 27, pages 27-47, January.
    13. James B. Bullard, 2022. "The Initial Response to the Inflation Shock of 2021," Speech 93608, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    14. James B. Bullard, 2021. "The Inflation Shock of 2021," Speech 93442, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    15. Kairon Shayne D. Garcia & Benjamin W. Cowan, 2022. "The Impact of U.S. School Closures on Labor Market Outcomes during the COVID-19 Pandemic," NBER Working Papers 29641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    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. Richard Disney & John Gathergood, 2018. "House Prices, Wealth Effects and Labour Supply," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 85(339), pages 449-478, July.
    2. Bo Zhao, 2018. "Too Poor to Retire? Housing Prices and Retirement," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 27, pages 27-47, January.
    3. Gopi Shah Goda & John B. Shoven & Sita Nataraj Slavov, 2012. "Does Stock Market Performance Influence Retirement Intentions?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(4), pages 1055-1081.
    4. Andreas Eder, 2016. "The impact of inheritances on the retirement behavior of older Europeans," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 43(2), pages 299-331, May.
    5. Xiwen Bai & Jesús Fernández-Villaverde & Yiliang Li & Francesco Zanetti, 2024. "The Causal Effects of Global Supply Chain Disruptions on Macroeconomic Outcomes: Evidence and Theory," Economics Series Working Papers 1033, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    6. Gustafson, Matthew T., 2017. "The market sensitivity of retirement and defined contribution pensions: Evidence from the public sector," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 1-13.
    7. Purvi Sevak, 2002. "Wealth Shocks and Retirement Timing: Evidence from the Nineties," Working Papers wp027, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    8. Courtney C. Coile & Phillip B. Levine, 2006. "Bulls, Bears, and Retirement Behavior," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 59(3), pages 408-429, April.
    9. Paul Marmora & Moritz Ritter, 2015. "Unemployment and the Retirement Decisions of Older Workers," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 274-290, September.
    10. Niizeki, Takeshi & Hori, Masahiro, 2019. "The effect of inheritance receipt on individual labor supply: Evidence from Japanese microdata," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 176-186.
    11. Elinder Mikael & Erixson Oscar & Ohlsson Henry, 2012. "The Impact of Inheritances on Heirs' Labor and Capital Income," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-37, December.
    12. Julia Lynn Coronado & Maria G. Perozek, 2003. "Wealth effects and the consumption of leisure: retirement decisions during the stock market boom of the 1900s," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2003-20, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    13. Lingxiao Zhao & Gregory Burge, 2017. "Housing Wealth, Property Taxes, and Labor Supply among the Elderly," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 227-263.
    14. Daminato, Claudio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2020. "Family labor supply and asset returns," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 124(C).
    15. Karakaya, Güngör, 2008. "Early cessation of activity in the labour market: impact of supply and demand factors," MPRA Paper 13390, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Gopi Shah Goda & Emilie Jackson & Lauren Hersch Nicholas & Sarah See Stith, 2023. "The impact of Covid-19 on older workers’ employment and Social Security spillovers," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 36(2), pages 813-846, April.
    17. Sebastian Dyrda & Marcelo Pedroni, 2015. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in a Model with Uninsurable Idiosyncratic Shocks," Working Papers tecipa-550, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    18. Crawford, Rowena, 2013. "The effect of the financial crisis on the retirement plans of older workers in England," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 156-159.
    19. Chorvat, Terrence, 2006. "Taxing utility," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 1-16, February.
    20. Sebastian Devlin-Foltz & John Edward Sabelhaus, 2015. "Heterogeneity in Economic Shocks and Household Spending," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2015-49, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

    More about this item


    COVID-19; labor force participation; retirement; returns on wealth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution


    Access and download statistics


    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:fip:fedlwp:96079. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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: Anna Oates (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.