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Household Debt and Labor Market Fluctuations

  • Javier Andrés

    (University of Valencia, Spain)

  • José Emilio Boscá

    (University of Valencia, Spain)

  • Javier Ferri

    (University of Valencia, Spain)

The co-movements of labor productivity with output, total hours, vacancies and unemployment have changed since the mid 1980s. This paper offers an explanation for the sharp break in the fluctuations of labor market variables based on endogenous labor supply decisions following the mortgage market deregulation. We set up a search model with efficient bargaining and financial frictions, in which impatient borrowers can take an amount of credit that cannot exceed a proportion of the expected value of their real estate holdings. When borrowers’ equity requirements are low, the impact of a positive technology shock on the marginal utility of consumption is strengthened, which in turn results in lower hours per worker and higher wages in the bargaining process. This shift in labor supply discourages firms from opening vacancies, reducing the impact of the shock on employment. We simulate the effects of a continuous increase in both the loan-to-value ratio and the share of borrowers in total population. Our exercise shows that the response of labor market variables might have been substantially affected by the increase in household leverage in the US in the last twenty years.

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Paper provided by International Economics Institute, University of Valencia in its series Working Papers with number 1102.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:iei:wpaper:1102
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