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Uninsurable Individual Risk and the Cyclical Behavior of Unemployment and Vacancies

  • Pedro Silos

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta)

  • Enchuan Shao

    (University of Iowa)

This paper is concerned with the business cycle dynamics in search and matching models of the labor market when agents are ex-post heterogeneous. We focus on wealth heterogeneity that comes as a result of imperfect opportunities to insure against idiosyncratic risk. We show that this heterogeneity implies wage rigidity relative to a complete insurance economy. The fraction of wealth poor agents pre- vents real wages from falling too much in recessions, since small decreases in income imply large losses in utility. Analogously, wages rise less in expansions compared to the standard model as small increases are enough for poor workers to accept job offers. This mechanism reduces the volatility of wages and increases the volatility of vacancies and unemployment. This channel can be relevant if the lack of insurance is large enough so that the fraction of agents close to the borrowing constraint is significant. However, discipline in the parameterization implies an earnings variance and a persistence in the unemployment state that results in a large degree of self insurance.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2007 Meeting Papers with number 420.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed007:420
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  1. Rudanko, Leena, 2009. "Labor market dynamics under long-term wage contracting," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 170-183, March.
  2. Gomes, Joao F & Greenwood, Jeremy & Rebelo, Sérgio, 1997. "Equilibrium Unemployment," CEPR Discussion Papers 1602, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Andolfatto, David, 1996. "Business Cycles and Labor-Market Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 112-32, March.
  4. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith, Jr., . "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," GSIA Working Papers 1997-37, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  5. Kenneth L. Judd, 1998. "Numerical Methods in Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100711, June.
  6. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  7. Daron Acemoglu & Robert Shimer, 1999. "Efficient Unemployment Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(5), pages 893-928, October.
  8. Merz, Monika, 1995. "Search in the labor market and the real business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 269-300, November.
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