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On the Distribution of the Welfare Losses of Large Recessions

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Listed:
  • Kurt Mitman

    (Stockholm University)

  • Fabrizio Perri

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis)

  • Dirk Krueger

    (University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

How big are the welfare losses from severe economic downturns, such as the Great Recession the U.S. experienced in recent years? How are those losses dis- tributed across the population? In this paper we answer these questions using a canonical business-cycle model featuring household income and wealth hetero- geneity that matches micro data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). We document how these losses are distributed across households and how they are affected by social insurance policies. We find the welfare cost of losing one’s job in a Great Recession ranges from 2% of lifetime consumption for the wealthiest households to 5% for low wealth households. The cost increases to approximately 8% for low wealth households if unemployment insurance benefits are cut from 50% to 10%. The fact that welfare losses fall with wealth, and that in our model (as in the data) a large fraction of households has very low wealth, implies that the impact of a severe recession, once aggregated across all households, is very significant (2.2% of lifetime consumption).

Suggested Citation

  • Kurt Mitman & Fabrizio Perri & Dirk Krueger, 2016. "On the Distribution of the Welfare Losses of Large Recessions," 2016 Meeting Papers 637, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed016:637
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    9. Ana Castaneda & Javier Diaz-Gimenez & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2003. "Accounting for the U.S. Earnings and Wealth Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 818-857, August.
    10. Marcus Hagedorn & Fatih Karahan & Iourii Manovskii & Kurt Mitman, 2013. "Unemployment Benefits and Unemployment in the Great Recession: The Role of Macro Effects," NBER Working Papers 19499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Mariacristina De Nardi & Fella Giulio & Fang Yang, 2016. "Piketty’s Book and Macro Models of Wealth Inequality," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    12. Andrew Glover & Jonathan Heathcote & Dirk Krueger & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2020. "Intergenerational Redistribution in the Great Recession," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(10), pages 3730-3778.
    13. John Ameriks & Joseph Briggs & Andrew Caplin & Matthew D. Shapiro & Christopher Tonetti, 2020. "Long-Term-Care Utility and Late-in-Life Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 128(6), pages 2375-2451.
    14. Jess Benhabib & Alberto Bisin, 2018. "Skewed Wealth Distributions: Theory and Empirics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(4), pages 1261-1291, December.
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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Missing markets
      by chris in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2017-02-22 20:33:44

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    Cited by:

    1. Marcelo Veracierto, 2014. "Adverse Selection, Risk Sharing and Business Cycles," Working Paper Series WP-2014-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    2. Julie L. Hotchkiss & Robert E. Moore & Fernando Rios-Avila, 2017. "Family Welfare and the Cost of Unemployment," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2017-7, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    3. Krueger, D. & Mitman, K. & Perri, F., 2016. "Macroeconomics and Household Heterogeneity," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 843-921, Elsevier.
    4. Mariacristina De Nardi & Giulio Fella, 2017. "Saving and Wealth Inequality," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 280-300, October.
    5. Hotchkiss, Julie L. & Moore, Robert E. & Rios-Avila, Fernando, 2020. "Cost of policy choices: A microsimulation analysis of the impact on family welfare of unemployment and price changes," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    6. Menno, Dominik & Oliviero, Tommaso, 2020. "Financial intermediation, house prices, and the welfare effects of the U.S. Great Recession," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 129(C).
    7. Adam M. Guren & Arvind Krishnamurthy & Timothy J. Mcquade, 2021. "Mortgage Design in an Equilibrium Model of the Housing Market," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 76(1), pages 113-168, February.
    8. Sewon Hur, 2018. "The Lost Generation of the Great Recession," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 30, pages 179-202, October.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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