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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: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:11/16
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  1. James Costain, 1997. "Unemployment insurance with endogenous search intensity and precautionary saving," Economics Working Papers 243, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  2. Gourieroux, C & Monfort, A & Renault, E, 1993. "Indirect Inference," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(S), pages S85-118, Suppl. De.
  3. Rasmus Lentz & Torben Tranaes, 2001. "Job Search and Savings: Wealth Effects and Duration Dependence," CESifo Working Paper Series 461, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Martin Browning & Thomas F. Crossley & Eric F. Smith, 2007. "Asset Accumulation and Short Term Employment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(3), pages 400-423, July.
  5. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
  6. Bent Jesper Christensen & Rasmus Lentz & Dale T. Mortensen & George R. Neumann & Axel Werwatz, 2003. "On the Job Search and the Wage Distribution," CAM Working Papers 2004-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
  7. George Hall and John Rust, Yale University, 2001. "Econometric Methods for Endogenously Sampled Time Series: The Case of Commodity Price Speculation in the Steel Market," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 274, Society for Computational Economics.
  8. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Helene Turon, 2006. "On-the-job Search, Productivity Shocks, and the Individual Earnings Process," 2006 Meeting Papers 5, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Susumu Imai & Michael P. Keane, 2004. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Human Capital Accumulation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 601-641, 05.
  10. Bontemps, Christian & Robin, Jean-Marc & Van den Berg, Gerard J, 1999. "An Empirical Equilibrium Job Search Model with Search on the Job and Heterogeneous Workers and Firms," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1039-74, November.
  11. David Andolfatto, 2002. "A Theory of Inalienable Property Rights," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 382-393, April.
  12. Santiago Budria Rodriguez & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Vincenzo Quadrini & Jose-Victor Rior-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.
  13. Christopher D. Carroll, 2009. "Theoretical Foundations of Buffer Stock Saving," 2009 Meeting Papers 210, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  14. Davidson, R. & Duclos, J.-Y., 1998. "Statistical Inference for Stochastic Dominance and for the Measurement of Poverty and Inequality," G.R.E.Q.A.M. 98a14, Universite Aix-Marseille III.
  15. Shimer, Robert, 2006. "On-the-job search and strategic bargaining," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 811-830, May.
  16. Rasmus Lentz, 2009. "Optimal Unemployment Insurance in an Estimated Job Search Model with Savings," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(1), pages 37-57, January.
  17. Burdett, Kenneth & Mortensen, Dale T, 1998. "Wage Differentials, Employer Size, and Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(2), pages 257-73, May.
  18. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, June.
  19. Melvyn G. Coles, 2001. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion, Firm Size and Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(1), pages 159-187, January.
  20. 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.
  21. Toche, Patrick, 2005. "A tractable model of precautionary saving in continuous time," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 267-272, May.
  22. Yann Algan & Arnaud Cheron & Jean-Olivier Hairault & Francois Langot, 2003. "Wealth Effect on Labor Market Transitions," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(1), pages 156-178, January.
  23. repec:bla:restud:v:77:y:2010:i:4:p:1231-1261 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Bruce D. Meyer & James X. Sullivan, 2003. "Measuring the Well-Being of the Poor Using Income and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 9760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. 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.
  26. Bowlus, Audra J & Kiefer, Nicholas M & Neumann, George R, 1995. "Estimation of Equilibrium Wage Distributions with Heterogeneity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(S), pages S119-31, Suppl. De.
  27. Pakes, Ariel & Pollard, David, 1989. "Simulation and the Asymptotics of Optimization Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(5), pages 1027-57, September.
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