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Does Redistribution Increase Output? The Centrality of Labor Supply

  • Athreya, Kartik B.

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

  • Owens, Andrew

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

  • Schwartzman, Felipe

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond)

The aftermath of the recent recession has seen numerous calls to use transfers to poorer households as a means to enhance aggregate activity. We show that the key to understanding the direction and size of such interventions lies in labor supply decisions. We study the aggregate impact of short-term redistributive economic policy in a standard incomplete-markets model. We characterize analytically conditions under which redistribution leads to an increase or decrease in effective hours worked, and hence, output. We then show that under the parameterization that matches the wealth distribution in the U.S. economy (Castaneda et al., 2003), wealth redistribution leads to a boom in consumption, but not in output.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 14-4.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 28 Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:14-04
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  1. Conesa, Juan Carlos & Krueger, Dirk, 2005. "On the optimal progressivity of the income tax code," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/10, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  2. Jonathan Heathcote, 2005. "Fiscal Policy with Heterogeneous Agents and Incomplete Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 161-188.
  3. Tullio Jappelli & Luigi Pistaferri, 2012. "Fiscal Policy and MPC Heterogeneity," CSEF Working Papers 325, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 18 Dec 2012.
  4. Krusell, P & Smith Jr, A-A, 1995. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomic," RCER Working Papers 399, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  5. Alonso-Ortiz, Jorge & Rogerson, Richard, 2010. "Taxes, transfers and employment in an incomplete markets model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(8), pages 949-958, November.
  6. McKay, Alisdair & Reis, Ricardo, 2013. "The role of automatic stabilizers in the U.S. business cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 9454, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Oh, Hyunseung & Reis, Ricardo, 2011. "Targeted transfers and the fiscal response to the great recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 8239, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Jonathan Huntley & Valentina Michelangeli, 2014. "Can Tax Rebates Stimulate Consumption Spending in a Life-Cycle Model?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 162-89, January.
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