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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. Robert E. Hall & Paul R. Milgrom, 2008. "The Limited Influence of Unemployment on the Wage Bargain," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1653-74, September.
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  10. Kevin Salyer, 2005. "Macroeconomic Priorities and Crash States," Working Papers 55, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Dale T. Mortensen & Eva Nagypal, 2005. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 11692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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).
  19. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1692-1706, September.
  20. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., 1999. "On the Welfare Effects of Eliminating Business Cycles," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 245-272, January.
  21. 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.
  22. Engen, Eric M. & Gruber, Jonathan, 2001. "Unemployment insurance and precautionary saving," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 545-579, June.
  23. MUKOYAMA, Toshihiko & ŞAHIN, Ayşegül, 2005. "Costs of Business Cycles for Unskilled Workers," Cahiers de recherche 15-2005, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  24. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae, 2006. "On the aggregate welfare cost of Great Depression unemployment," Working Papers 06-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  25. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  26. Tom Krebs, 2005. "Job Displacement Risk and the Cost of Business Cycles," 2005 Meeting Papers 188, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  27. 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.
  28. Shigeru Fujita & Garey Ramey, 2007. "The cyclicality of separation and job finding rates," Working Papers 07-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
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