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On-the-Job Search and Precautionary Savings: Theory and Empirics of Earnings and Wealth Inequality

  • Jeremy Lise

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

I develop and estimate a model of the labor market in which precautionary savings interacts with labour market frictions to produce substantial inequality in wealth among ex ante identical workers. I show that a model of on-the-job search,in which workers are risk averse and markets are incomplete, provides a direct and intuitive link between the empirical earnings and wealth distributions. The mechanism that generates the high degree of wealth inequality in the model is the dynamic of the "wage ladder" resulting from the search process. There is an important asymmetry between the incremental wage increases generated by on-thejob search (climbing the ladder) and the drop in income associated with job loss (falling off the ladder). The behavior of workers in low paying jobs is primarily governed by the expectation of wage growth, while the behavior of workers near the top of the distribution is driven by the possibility of job loss.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W11/16.

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Date of creation: 04 Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:11/16
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  1. McFadden, Daniel, 1989. "A Method of Simulated Moments for Estimation of Discrete Response Models without Numerical Integration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(5), pages 995-1026, September.
  2. David Andolfatto, 2002. "A Theory of Inalienable Property Rights," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 382-393, April.
  3. Sule Alan & Martin Browning, 2003. "Estimating Intertemporal Allocation Parameters using Simulated Residual Estimation," CAM Working Papers 2003-03, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  4. Toche, Patrick, 2005. "A tractable model of precautionary saving in continuous time," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 267-272, May.
  5. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, March.
  6. Mark Bils & Yongsung Chang & Sun-Bin Kim, 2011. "Worker Heterogeneity and Endogenous Separations in a Matching Model of Unemployment Fluctuations," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 128-54, January.
  7. Santiago Budria Rodriguez & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2002. "Updated facts on the U.S. distributions of earnings, income, and wealth," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sum, pages 2-35.
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