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Does Spousal Labor Smooth Fluctuations in Husbands’ Earnings? The Role of Liquidity Constraints

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  • Mercedes Garcia-Escribano

Abstract

This paper theoretically and empirically investigates the role of spousal labor in buffering transitory shocks to husbands' earnings. To measure the amount of the shock that spousal labor absorbs, an instrumented cross-sectional variance decomposition is developed. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the paper finds that the smoothing resulting from the wives' labor response (both labor force participation and hours of work) is larger for households with limited access to credit. This finding, which is consistent with the model's prediction, indicates that because of the presence of liquidity constraints, the temporal change in family income (exclusive of wives' earnings) reinforces the substitution effect in explaining the effect of shocks to the husbands' earnings on spousal labor.

Suggested Citation

  • Mercedes Garcia-Escribano, 2004. "Does Spousal Labor Smooth Fluctuations in Husbands’ Earnings? The Role of Liquidity Constraints," IMF Working Papers 04/20, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:04/20
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Zeldes, Stephen P, 1989. "Consumption and Liquidity Constraints: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 305-346, April.
    2. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1987. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Long-term Employment Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 50-68, March.
    3. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1980. "Unemployment as Disequilibrium in a Model of Aggregate Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 547-564, April.
    4. Deaton, Angus, 1991. "Saving and Liquidity Constraints," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(5), pages 1221-1248, September.
    5. Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
    6. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
    7. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-684.
    8. Hall, Robert E & Mishkin, Frederic S, 1982. "The Sensitivity of Consumption to Transitory Income: Estimates from Panel Data on Households," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 461-481, March.
    9. Heaton, John & Lucas, Deborah J, 1996. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 443-487, June.
    10. Gruber, Jonathan, 1997. "The Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 192-205, March.
    11. Lundberg, Shelly, 1985. "The Added Worker Effect," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 11-37, January.
    12. Cullen, Julie Berry & Gruber, Jonathan, 2000. "Does Unemployment Insurance Crowd Out Spousal Labor Supply?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 546-572, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Asdrubali, Pierfederico & Tedeschi, Simone & Ventura, Luigi, 2015. "Household Risksharing Channels," MPRA Paper 65906, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Katrin Elborgh-Woytek & Monique Newiak & Kalpana Kochhar & Stefania Fabrizio & Kangni R Kpodar & Philippe Wingender & Benedict J. Clements & Gerd Schwartz, 2013. "Women, Work, and the Economy; Macroeconomic Gains from Gender Equity," IMF Staff Discussion Notes 13/10, International Monetary Fund.

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