IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Labor Supply Elasticities: Can Micro Be Misleading for Macro?

  • Riccardo Fiorito


  • Giulio Zanella


In this paper we compare “micro” and “macro” labor supply elasticities in a MaCurdy-type equation. Using PSID data, we obtain the micro elasticity from standard panel techniques, and the macro elasticity from the time series generated by aggregating individuals every year. This procedure relies on the exact aggregation of first-order conditions in a life-cycle model with home production. We find an individual elasticity of about 0.1, a low value in line with mainstream microeconometric studies, and an aggregate elasticity of about 1, a much larger value often assumed in calibration studies. This discrepancy is not due to aggregation bias: it is due to the fact that individual and total hours are different variables, with the extensive margin that empirically dominates. A broader implication of our result is that micro evidence is not always appropriate for calibrating an aggregate model economy

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Siena in its series Department of Economics University of Siena with number 547.

in new window

Date of creation: Nov 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:547
Contact details of provider: Postal: Piazza S.Francesco,7 - 53100 Siena
Phone: (39)(0577)232620
Fax: (39)(0577)232661
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Baxter, Marianne & King, Robert G, 1993. "Fiscal Policy in General Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 315-34, June.
  2. Arellano, Manuel, 1989. "A note on the Anderson-Hsiao estimator for panel data," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 337-341, December.
  3. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "Current real business cycle theories and aggregate labor market fluctuations," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 90, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  4. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1969. "Real Wages, Employment, and Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 721-54, Sept./Oct.
  5. Benhabib, Jess & Rogerson, Richard & Wright, Randall, 1991. "Homework in Macroeconomics: Household Production and Aggregate Fluctuations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1166-87, December.
  6. Yongsung Chang & Sun-Bin Kim, 2003. "From individual to aggregate labor supply : a quantitative analysis based on a heterogeneous agent macroeconomy," Working Paper 03-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  7. Edward C. Prescott, 2003. "Why do Americans work so much more than Europeans?," Staff Report 321, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Alogoskoufis, George S, 1987. "On Intertemporal Substitution and Aggregate Labor Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(5), pages 938-60, October.
  9. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  10. Fiorito, Riccardo & Kollintzas, Tryphon, 1992. "Stylized Facts of Business Cycles in the G7 from a Real Business Cycles Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 681, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1989. "Real Business Cycles: A New Keynesian Perspective," NBER Working Papers 2882, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. N. Gregory Mankiw & Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "Intertemporal Substitution in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 0898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Joseph Altonji, 1984. "Intertemporal Substitution in Labor Supply: Evidence from Micro Data," Working Papers 562, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  14. McGrattan, Ellen R., 1994. "The macroeconomic effects of distortionary taxation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 573-601, June.
  15. Edward C. Prescott, 2006. "Nobel Lecture: The Transformation of Macroeconomic Policy and Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 203-235, April.
  16. Bencivenga, Valerie R, 1992. "An Econometric Study of Hours and Output Variation with Preference Shocks," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(2), pages 449-71, May.
  17. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  18. Cho, Jang-Ok & Cooley, Thomas F., 1994. "Employment and hours over the business cycle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 411-432, March.
  19. Edward C. Prescott & Richard Rogerson & Johanna Wallenius, 2007. "Lifetime aggregate labor supply with endogenous workweek length," Staff Report 400, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  20. Richard Rogerson, 2010. "Indivisible Labor, Lotteries and Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 250, David K. Levine.
  21. Prescott, Edward C., 1986. "Theory ahead of business-cycle measurement," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 11-44, January.
  22. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
  23. Pischke, Jorn-Steffen, 1995. "Measurement Error and Earnings Dynamics: Some Estimates from the PSID Validation Study," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(3), pages 305-14, July.
  24. Richard Rogerson & Johanna Wallenius, 2007. "Micro and Macro Elasticities in a Life Cycle Model With Taxes," NBER Working Papers 13017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Moffitt, Robert A., 1999. "New developments in econometric methods for labor market analysis," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 24, pages 1367-1397 Elsevier.
  26. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633 Elsevier.
  27. Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Some skeptical observations on real business cycle theory," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 23-27.
  28. Jamaes P. Ziliak & Thomas J. Kniesner, 2003. "The Effect of Income Taxation on Consumption and Labor Supply," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 54, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
  29. Pencavel, John, 1987. "Labor supply of men: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 3-102 Elsevier.
  30. Domeij, David & Floden, Martin, 2001. "The labor-supply elasticity and borrowing constraints: Why estimates are biased," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 480, Stockholm School of Economics.
  31. Susumu Imai & Michael P. Keane, 2004. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Human Capital Accumulation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 601-641, 05.
  32. Gary Hansen, 2010. "Indivisible Labor and the Business Cycle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 233, David K. Levine.
  33. Yongsung Chang & Sun-Bin Kim, 2005. "On the aggregate labor supply," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Win, pages 21-37.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Economic Logic blog

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:usi:wpaper:547. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Fabrizio Becatti)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.