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The Marginal Worker and the Aggregate Elasticity of Labor Supply

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  • Francois Gourio
  • Pierre-Alexandre Noual

    () (Department of Economics University of Chicago)

Abstract

This paper attempts to reconcile the high apparent aggregate elasticity of labor supply with small micro estimates. We elaborate on Rogerson's seminal work (1988) and show that his results rely neither on complete markets nor on lotteries, but rather on the indivisibility and the fact that the workforce is homogeneous at the margin. We derive two robust implications of a setup with indivisible labor but without lotteries, using either a complete markets model or an incomplete markets model (solved numerically). (1) Agents with reservation wages far above or below the market wage are less responsive (in labor supply) to the business cycle than agents whose reservation wage is around the market wage. (2) The aggregate elasticity is given by the marginal homogeneity of the workforce. We test implication (1) using the PSID and find support for it. We build an incomplete markets model and calibrate it to cross-sectional moments of hours worked. We show that it can reproduce the feature (1). This allows us to use the model to evaluate the importance of feature (2), i.e. to estimate the aggregate elasticity of labor supply implied by the marginal homogeneity.

Suggested Citation

  • Francois Gourio & Pierre-Alexandre Noual, 2006. "The Marginal Worker and the Aggregate Elasticity of Labor Supply," 2006 Meeting Papers 509, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed006:509
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mulligan Casey B, 2001. "Aggregate Implications of Indivisible Labor," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-35, April.
    2. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
    3. Yongsung Chang & Sun-Bin Kim, 2006. "From Individual To Aggregate Labor Supply: A Quantitative Analysis Based On A Heterogeneous Agent Macroeconomy ," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(1), pages 1-27, February.
    4. David K. Levine & William R. Zame, 2002. "Does Market Incompleteness Matter?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1805-1839, September.
    5. Heckman, James J, 1993. "What Has Been Learned about Labor Supply in the Past Twenty Years?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 116-121, May.
    6. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
    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. Robert Shimer, 2012. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(2), pages 127-148, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jochen Mankart & Rigas Oikonomou, 2017. "Household Search and the Aggregate Labour Market," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(4), pages 1735-1788.
    2. Leigh Andrew, 2010. "Who Benefits from the Earned Income Tax Credit? Incidence among Recipients, Coworkers and Firms," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-43, May.
    3. Juan David Prada Sarmiento & Luis Eduardo Rojas Dueñas, 2009. "La elasticidad de Frisch y la transmisión de la política monetaria en Colombia," Borradores de Economia 555, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    4. Manoj Atolia, 2010. "Public Investment, Tax Evasion, And The Welfare Effects Of A Tariff Reform," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(2), pages 219-239, April.
    5. Mitra, Shalini, 2018. "Intangible Capital and the Rise in Wage and Hours Volatility," MPRA Paper 89697, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Raffo, Andrea, 2008. "Net exports, consumption volatility and international business cycle models," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 14-29, May.
    7. Colacito, Riccardo & Croce, Mariano Massimiliano & Ho, Steven & Howard, Philip, 2018. "BKK the EZ Way. International Long-Run Growth News and Capital Flows," CEPR Discussion Papers 12783, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Wouter Denhaan, 2007. "Shocks and the Unavoidable Road to Higher Taxes and Higher Unemployment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(3), pages 348-366, July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    indivisible labor; reservation wage distribution; labor supply; business cycles;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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