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Household Responses to Individual Shocks: Disability, Labour Supply

  • Laura Turner

    (University of Toronto)

  • Giovanni Gallipoli

    (University of British Columbia)

What are idiosyncratic shocks and how do people react to them? This paper starts from the observation that idiosyncratic shocks are experienced at the individual level, while responses to shocks can encompass the whole household. Understanding and accurately modeling these responses is essential to the analysis of intra-household allocations, especially labor supply. Using longitudinal data from the `Canadian Survey of Labor and Income Dynamics' (SLID) we exploit information about disability and health status to develop a life-cycle framework which rationalizes observed responses of household members to idiosyncratic shocks. Two puzzling findings associated to disability onset motivate our work: (1) the almost complete absence of `added worker' effects within households and, (2) the fact that single agents' labor supply responses to disability shocks are larger and more persistent than those of married agents. We show that a first-pass, basic model of the household has predictions about dynamic labor supply responses which are at odds with these facts; despite such failure, we argue that these facts are consistent with optimal household behavior when we account for two simple mechanisms: the first mechanism relates to selection into and out of marriage, while the second hinges on insurance transfers taking place within households. We show that these mechanisms arise naturally when we allow for three features: a linkage between human capital accumulation and life-cycle labor supply, endogenous marriage contracts and the possibility of time transfers between partners. We also provide evidence that our extended model with endogenous marriage contracts can fit divorce patterns observed in Canadian data, as well as correlations between disability prevalence and marital status, providing an ideal framework to study intra-household risk-sharing with limited commitment.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2010 Meeting Papers with number 110.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed010:110
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Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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