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The (un)importance of unemployment fluctuations for welfare

  • Philip Jung
  • Keith Kuester

This paper develops a real business cycle model with labor market search and matching frictions, which endogenously links both the cyclical fluctuations and the mean level of unemployment to the aggregate business cycle risk. The key result of the paper is that business cycles are costly for all consumers, regardless of their wealth, yet that unemployment fluctuations themselves are not the source of these costs. Rather fluctuations over the cycle induce higher average unemployment rates as employment is non-linear in job-finding rates and past unemployment. The authors first show this result analytically in special cases. They then calibrate a general equilibrium model with risk-averse asset-holding and liquidity-constrained workers to US data. Also under these more general circumstances, business cycles mean higher unemployment for all workers. The ensuing costs of cycles rise further for liquidity-constrained agents when replacement rates are lower or when workers' skills depend on the length of (un)employment spells.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 08-31.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:08-31
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  1. Beaudry, Paul & Pages, Carmen, 2001. "The cost of business cycles and the stabilization value of unemployment insurance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(8), pages 1545-1572, August.
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  3. Domeij, David & Floden, Martin, 2001. "The labor-supply elasticity and borrowing constraints: Why estimates are biased," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 480, Stockholm School of Economics.
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  10. Dale T. Mortensen & Eva Nagypal, 2005. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 11692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 2002. "Solving Dynamic General Equilibrium Models Using a Second-Order Approximation to the Policy Function," NBER Technical Working Papers 0282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Robert E. Hall & Paul R. Milgrom, 2005. "The Limited Influence of Unemployment on the Wage Bargain," NBER Working Papers 11245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Engen, Eric M. & Gruber, Jonathan, 2001. "Unemployment insurance and precautionary saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 545-579, June.
  14. Mukoyama, Toshihiko & Sahin, Aysegul, 2006. "Costs of business cycles for unskilled workers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 2179-2193, November.
  15. Tom Krebs, 2003. "Growth and Welfare Effects of Business Cycles in Economies with Idiosyncratic Human Capital Risk," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(4), pages 846-868, October.
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  17. James S. Costain & Michael Reiter, 2004. "Stabilization versus insurance: welfare effects of procyclical taxation under incomplete markets," Working Papers 234, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  18. Tom Krebs, 2005. "Job Displacement Risk and the Cost of Business Cycles," 2005 Meeting Papers 188, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  19. Gadi Barlevy, 2003. "The Cost of Business Cycles Under Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 9970, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Hagedorn, Marcus & Manovskii, Iourii, 2008. "The cyclical behavior of equilibrium unemployment and vacancies revisited," Working Paper Series 0853, European Central Bank.
  21. Chatterjee, Satyajit & Corbae, Dean, 2007. "On the aggregate welfare cost of Great Depression unemployment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(6), pages 1529-1544, September.
  22. Tom Krebs, 2004. "Welfare Cost of Business Cycles When Markets Are Incomplete," Working Papers 2004-08, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  23. Hairault, Jean-Olivier & Langot, François & Osotimehin, Sophie, 2008. "Unemployment Dynamics and the Cost of Business Cycles," IZA Discussion Papers 3840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  24. N. Gregory Mankiw, 2000. "The Savers-Spenders Theory of Fiscal Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 120-125, May.
  25. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1993. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0110, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  26. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
  27. Andrew T. Levin & Alexei Onatski & John Williams & Noah M. Williams, 2006. "Monetary Policy Under Uncertainty in Micro-Founded Macroeconometric Models," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 229-312 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Kevin Salyer, 2005. "Macroeconomic Priorities and Crash States," Working Papers 55, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  29. Shigeru Fujita & Garey Ramey, 2007. "The cyclicality of separation and job finding rates," Working Papers 07-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  30. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
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