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The Cyclicality of the Opportunity Cost of Employment

Listed author(s):
  • Gabriel Chodorow-Reich
  • Loukas Karabarbounis

The flow opportunity cost of moving from unemployment to employment consists of foregone public benefits and the foregone value of non-working time in units of consumption. We construct a time series of the opportunity cost of employment using detailed microdata and administrative or national accounts data to estimate benefit levels, eligibility and take-up of benefits, consumption by labor force status, hours per worker, taxes, and preference parameters. Our estimated opportunity cost is procyclical and volatile over the business cycle. The estimated cyclicality implies far less unemployment volatility in many leading models of the labor market than that observed in the data, irrespective of the level of the opportunity cost.

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File URL: http://scholar.harvard.edu/chodorow-reich/node/126541
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Paper provided by Harvard University OpenScholar in its series Working Paper with number 126541.

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Handle: RePEc:qsh:wpaper:126541
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  8. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  9. Marcus Hagedorn & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1692-1706, September.
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  12. Mendoza, Enrique G. & Razin, Assaf & Tesar, Linda L., 1994. "Effective tax rates in macroeconomics: Cross-country estimates of tax rates on factor incomes and consumption," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 297-323, December.
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  19. Hagedorn, Marcus & Karahan, Fatih & Manovskii, Iourii & Mitman, Kurt, 2013. "Unemployment benefits and unemployment in the Great Recession: the role of macro effects," Staff Reports 646, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, revised 01 Feb 2015.
  20. Patricia M. Anderson & Bruce D. Meyer, 1997. "Unemployment Insurance Takeup Rates and the After-Tax Value of Benefits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 913-937.
  21. Rogerson, Richard & Wright, Randall, 1988. "Involuntary unemployment in economies with efficient risk sharing," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 501-515.
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  23. Pistaferri, Luigi, 2002. "Anticipated and Unanticipated Wage Changes, Wage Risk, and Intertemporal Labour Supply," CEPR Discussion Papers 3628, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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