Creator: Guvenen, Fatih and Rendall, Michelle Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 704 Abstract:
In this paper, we study the role of education as insurance against a bad marriage. Historically, due to disparities in earning power and education across genders, married women often found themselves in an economically vulnerable position, and had to suffer one of two fates in a bad marriage: either they get divorced (assuming it is available) and struggle as low-income single mothers, or they remain trapped in the marriage. In both cases, education can provide a route to emancipation for women. To investigate this idea, we build and estimate an equilibrium search model with education, marriage/divorce/remarriage, and household labor supply decisions. A key feature of the model is that women bear a larger share of the divorce burden, mainly because they are more closely tied to their children relative to men. Our focus on education is motivated by the fact that divorce laws typically allow spouses to keep the future returns from their human capital upon divorce (unlike their physical assets), making education a good insurance against divorce risk. However, as women further their education, the earnings gap between spouses shrinks, leading to more unstable marriages and, in turn, further increasing demand for education. The framework generates powerful amplification mechanisms, which lead to a large rise in divorce rates and a decline in marriage rates (similar to those observed in the US data) from relatively modest exogenous driving forces. Further, in the model, women overtake men in college attainment during the 1990s, a feature of the data that has proved challenging to explain. Our counterfactual experiments indicate that the divorce law reform of the 1970s played an important role in all of these trends, explaining more than one-quarter of college attainment rate of women post-1970s and one-half of the rise in labor supply for married women.
Keyword: Divorce law reform, Marriage, College-gender gap, Divorce, Female labor supply, and Remarriage Subject (JEL): D13 - Household Production and Intrahousehold Allocation, E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity, and J12 - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse
Creator: Kehoe, Timothy Jerome, 1953- and Ruhl, Kim J. Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 324 Abstract:
We propose a methodology for studying changes in bilateral commodity trade due to goods not exported previously or exported only in small quantities. Using a panel of 1,900 country pairs, we find that increased trade of these “least-traded goods” is an important factor in trade growth. This extensive margin accounts for 10 percent of the growth in trade for NAFTA country pairs, for example, and 26 percent in trade between the United States and Chile, China, and Korea. Looking at country pairs with no major trade policy change or structural change, however, we find little change in the extensive margin.
Keyword: International trade, Extensive margin, Trade liberalization, NAFTA , and Structural change Subject (JEL): F13 - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations, O14 - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology, F10 - Trade: General, and F44 - International Business Cycles
Creator: Atkeson, Andrew, Eisfeldt, Andrea L., and Weill, Pierre-Olivier Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 479 Abstract:
We develop a model of equilibrium entry, trade, and price formation in over-the-counter (OTC) markets. Banks trade derivatives to share an aggregate risk subject to two trading frictions: they must pay a fixed entry cost, and they must limit the size of the positions taken by their traders because of risk-management concerns. Although all banks in our model are endowed with access to the same trading technology, some large banks endogenously arise as “dealers,” trading mainly to provide intermediation services, while medium sized banks endogenously participate as “customers” mainly to share risks. We use the model to address positive questions regarding the growth in OTC markets as trading frictions decline, and normative questions of how regulation of entry impacts welfare.
Keyword: Trading limits, Bargaining, Networks, Entry, Asset pricing, and Welfare Subject (JEL): G28 - Financial Institutions and Services: Government Policy and Regulation, G23 - Pension Funds; Non-bank Financial Institutions; Financial Instruments; Institutional Investors, L14 - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation; Networks, and G20 - Financial Institutions and Services: General
Creator: Bridgman, Benjamin, Maio, Michael, Schmitz, James Andrew, and Teixeira, Arilton Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 477 Abstract:
Beginning in the early 1900s, Puerto Rican sugar has entered the U.S. mainland tariff free. Given this new status, the Puerto Rican sugar industry grew dramatically, soon far outstripping Louisiana’s production. Then, in the middle 1960s, something amazing happened. Production collapsed. Manufacturing sugar in Puerto Rico was no longer profitable. Louisiana, in contrast, continued to produce and grow sugar. We argue that local economic policy was responsible for the industry’s demise. In the 1930s and 1940s, the local Puerto Rican government enacted policies to stifle the growth of large cane-farms. As a result, starting in the late 1930s, farm size fell, mechanization of farms essentially ceased, and the Puerto Rican sugar industry’s productivity (relative to Louisiana) rapidly declined until the industry collapsed. The overall Puerto Rican economy also began to perform poorly in the late 1930s. In particular, Puerto Rico’s per capita income was converging to that of the poorest U.S. states until the late 1930s, but since then it has lost ground to these states. One naturally wonders: was the poor overall performance of the Puerto Rican economy also the result of policy? We show that Puerto Rico embarked on other economic policies in the early 1940s that proved to be major setbacks to its economic development.
Keyword: Industrial policy, Sugar, Puerto Rico , and Land Subject (JEL): N56 - Economic History: Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment, and Extractive Industries: Latin America; Caribbean and L52 - Industrial Policy; Sectoral Planning Methods
Creator: Guvenen, Fatih, Ozkan, Serdar, and Song, Jae Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 476 Abstract:
This paper studies the nature of business cycle variation in individual earnings risk using a confidential dataset from the U.S. Social Security Administration, which contains (uncapped) earnings histories for millions of individuals. The base sample is a nationally representative panel containing 10 percent of all U.S. males from 1978 to 2010. We use these data to decompose individual earnings growth during recessions into “between-group” and “within-group” components. We begin with the behavior of within-group shocks. Contrary to past research, we do not find the variance of idiosyncratic earnings shocks to be countercyclical. Instead, it is the left-skewness of shocks that is strongly countercyclical. That is, during recessions, the upper end of the shock distribution collapses—large upward earnings movements become less likely—whereas the bottom end expands—large drops in earnings become more likely. Thus, while the dispersion of shocks does not increase, shocks become more left-skewed and, hence, risky during recessions. Second, to study between-group differences, we group individuals based on several observable characteristics at the time a recession hits. One of these characteristics—the average earnings of an individual at the beginning of a business cycle episode—proves to be an especially good predictor of fortunes during a recession: prime-age workers that enter a recession with high average earnings suffer substantially less compared with those who enter with low average earnings (which is not the case during expansions). Finally, we find that the cyclical nature of earnings risk is dramatically different for the top 1 percent compared with all other individuals—even relative to those in the top 2 to 5 percent.
Keyword: Idiosyncratic shocks, Factor structure, Countercyclical income risk, Skewness, and Administrative data Subject (JEL): E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity, J31 - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials, and J21 - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
Creator: Correia, Isabel, Farhi, Emmanuel, Nicolini, Juan Pablo, and Teles, Pedro Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 698 Abstract:
When the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates binds, monetary policy cannot provide appropriate stimulus. We show that, in the standard New Keynesian model, tax policy can deliver such stimulus at no cost and in a time-consistent manner. There is no need to use inefficient policies such as wasteful public spending or future commitments to low interest rates.
Keyword: Fiscal policy, Zero bound, Sticky prices, and Monetary policy Subject (JEL): E62 - Fiscal Policy, E63 - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy, E58 - Central Banks and Their Policies, E31 - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation, E40 - Money and Interest Rates: General, and E52 - Monetary Policy
Creator: Schmitz, James Andrew Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 468 Abstract:
Fifty-eight years ago, Harberger (1954) estimated that the costs of monopoly, which resulted from misallocation of resources across industries, were trivial. Others showed the same was true for tariffs. This research soon led to the consensus that monopoly costs are of little significance—a consensus that persists to this day.
This paper reports on a new literature that takes a different approach to the costs of monopoly. It examines the costs of monopoly and tariffs within industries. In particular, it examines the histories of industries in which a monopoly is destroyed (or tariffs greatly reduced) and the industry transitions quickly from monopoly to competition. If there are costs to monopoly and high tariffs within industries, we should be able to see these costs whittled away as the monopoly is destroyed.
In contrast to the prevailing consensus, this new research has identified significant costs of monopoly. Monopoly (and high tariffs) is shown to significantly lower productivity within establishments. It also leads to misallocation within industry: resources are transferred from high to low productivity establishments.
From these histories a common theme (or theory) emerges as to why monopoly is costly. When a monopoly is created, “rents” are created. Conflict emerges among shareholders, managers, and employees of the monopoly as they negotiate how to divide these rents. Mechanisms are set up to split the rents. These mechanisms are often means to reduce competition among members of the monopoly. Although the mechanisms divide rents, they also destroy them (by leading to low productivity and misallocation).
Keyword: Monopoly, X-inefficiency, Rent seeking, and Competition Subject (JEL): F10 - Trade: General, L00 - Industrial Organization: General, and D20 - Production and Organizations: General
Creator: Kehoe, Patrick J. and Midrigan, Virgiliu Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 413 Abstract:
Recent studies say prices change about every four months. Economists have interpreted this high frequency as evidence against the importance of sticky prices for the real effects of monetary policy. Theory implies that this interpretation is correct if most price changes are regular, but not if most are temporary, as in the data. Temporary changes have a striking feature: after such a change, the nominal price tends to return exactly to its preexisting level. We study versions of Calvo and menu cost models that replicate this feature. Both models predict that the degree of aggregate price stickiness is determined mostly by the frequency of regular price changes, not by the combined frequency of temporary and regular price changes. Since regular prices are sticky in the data, the models predict a substantial degree of aggregate price stickiness even though micro prices change frequently. In particular, the aggregate price level in our models is as sticky as in standard models in which micro prices change about once a year. In this sense, prices are sticky after all.
Keyword: Sticky prices, Menu costs, and Sales Subject (JEL): E30 - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles: General (includes Measurement and Data), E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles, and E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
Creator: Chiappori, Pierre-André, Samphantharak, Krislert, Schulhofer-Wohl, Sam, and Townsend, Robert M. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 683 Abstract:
We show how to use panel data on household consumption to directly estimate households’ risk preferences. Specifically, we measure heterogeneity in risk aversion among households in Thai villages using a full risk-sharing model, which we then test allowing for this heterogeneity. There is substantial, statistically significant heterogeneity in estimated risk preferences. Full insurance cannot be rejected. As the risk sharing, as-if-complete-markets theory might predict, estimated risk preferences are unrelated to wealth or other characteristics. The heterogeneity matters for policy: Although the average household would benefit from eliminating village-level risk, less-risk-averse households who are paid to absorb that risk would be worse off by several percent of household consumption.
Keyword: Insurance, Risk preferences, Complete markets, and Heterogeneity Subject (JEL): D81 - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty, O16 - Economic Development: Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance, D14 - Household Saving; Personal Finance, G11 - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions, D91 - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics: Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making, D12 - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis, and D53 - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium: Financial Markets
Creator: McGrattan, Ellen R. and Prescott, Edward C. Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 694 Abstract:
Prior to the mid-1980s, labor productivity growth was a useful barometer of the U.S. economy’s performance: it was low when the economy was depressed and high when it was booming. Since then, labor productivity has become significantly less procyclical. In the recent downturn of 2008–2009, labor productivity actually rose as GDP plummeted. These facts have motivated the development of new business cycle theories because the conventional view is that they are inconsistent with existing business cycle theory. In this paper, we analyze recent events with existing theory and find that the labor productivity puzzle is much less of a puzzle than previously thought. In light of these findings, we argue that policy agendas arising from new untested theories should be disregarded.
Keyword: Intangible capital, Nonneutral technology change, Labor productivity, Labor wedge, and RBC models Subject (JEL): E01 - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts, E13 - General Aggregative Models: Neoclassical, and E32 - Business Fluctuations; Cycles