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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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File URL: http://www.philadelphiafed.org/research-and-data/publications/working-papers/2008/wp08-31.pdf
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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. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., . "On the Welfare Effects of Eliminating Business Cycles," GSIA Working Papers 243, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
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  9. Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2001. "Solving Dynamic General Equilibrium Models Using a Second-Order Approximation to the Policy Function," CEPR Discussion Papers 2963, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Tom Krebs, 2007. "Job Displacement Risk and the Cost of Business Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 664-686, June.
  11. 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.
  12. Storesletten, Kjetil & Telmer, Chris I. & Yaron, Amir, 2001. "The welfare cost of business cycles revisited: Finite lives and cyclical variation in idiosyncratic risk," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(7), pages 1311-1339.
  13. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1999. "The Savers-Spenders Theory of Fiscal Policy," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1888, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  14. 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.
  15. Andrew T. Levin & Alexei Onatski & John C. Williams & Noah Williams, 2005. "Monetary Policy Under Uncertainty in Micro-Founded Macroeconometric Models," NBER Working Papers 11523, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Gadi Barlevy, 2005. "The cost of business cycles and the benefits of stabilization," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 32-49.
  17. Gadi Barlevy, 2003. "The cost of business cycles under endogenous growth," Working Paper Series WP-03-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  18. Engen, Eric M. & Gruber, Jonathan, 2001. "Unemployment insurance and precautionary saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 545-579, June.
  19. David Domeij & Martin Floden, 2006. "The Labor-Supply Elasticity and Borrowing Constraints: Why Estimates are Biased," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(2), pages 242-262, April.
  20. 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, 05.
  21. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  22. Jacobson, Louis S & LaLonde, Robert J & Sullivan, Daniel G, 1993. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 685-709, September.
  23. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae, 2006. "On the aggregate welfare cost of Great Depression unemployment," Working Papers 06-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  24. Dale T. Mortensen, 2005. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," 2005 Meeting Papers 326, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  25. Salyer, Kevin D., 2007. "Macroeconomic priorities and crash states," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 64-70, January.
  26. Sophie Osotimehin & François Langot & Jean-Olivier Hairault, 2009. "Unemployment dynamics and the cost of business cycles," 2009 Meeting Papers 492, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  27. James Costain and Michael Reiter, 2001. "Stabilization versus Insurance," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 161, Society for Computational Economics.
  28. Garey Ramey & Wouter J. den Haan & Joel Watson, 2000. "Job Destruction and Propagation of Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 482-498, June.
  29. 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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