Why is Old Workers' Labor Market More Volatile? Unemployment Fluctuations Over the Life-Cycle

61 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2014

See all articles by Jean-Olivier Hairault

Jean-Olivier Hairault

Université Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

François Langot

University of Angers - Centre d'Etudes Prospectives d'Economie Mathematique Appliquees a la Planification (CEPREMAP); Université du Maine - Groupe d' Analyse des Itineraires et Niveaux Salariaux (GAINS); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Thepthida Sopraseuth

Université du Maine; University of Angers - Centre d'Etudes Prospectives d'Economie Mathematique Appliquees a la Planification (CEPREMAP)

Abstract

Since the last recession, it is usually argued that older workers are less affected by the economic downturn because their unemployment rate rose less than the one of prime-age workers. This view is a myth: older workers are more sensitive to the business cycle. We document volatilities of worker flows and hourly wage across age groups on CPS data. We find that old worker's job flows are characterized by a higher responsiveness to business cycles than their younger counterparts. In contrast, their wage cyclicality is lower than prime-age workers'. Beyond this empirical contribution, we show that a life-cycle Mortensen & Pissarides (1994) model is well suited to explain these facts: older workers' shorter work-life expectancy endogenously reduces their outside options and leads their wages to be less sensitive to the business cycle. Thus, in a market where wage adjustments are small, quantities vary a lot: this is the case for older workers, whereas the youngest behave like infinitively-lived agents. Our theoretical results point out that Shimer (2005)'s view on the MP model is consistent with prime-age workers' labor market while aging endogenously introduces real wage rigidities, allowing to match what we observe for old workers, without specific assumptions as in Hagendorn & Manovskii (2008).

Keywords: search, matching, business cycle, life-cycle

JEL Classification: E32, J11, J23

Suggested Citation

Hairault, Jean-Olivier and Langot, Francois and Sopraseuth, Thepthida, Why is Old Workers' Labor Market More Volatile? Unemployment Fluctuations Over the Life-Cycle. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8076. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2424175

Jean-Olivier Hairault (Contact Author)

Université Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne ( email )

12, place du Panthéon
Paris, IL
France

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Francois Langot

University of Angers - Centre d'Etudes Prospectives d'Economie Mathematique Appliquees a la Planification (CEPREMAP) ( email )

Ecole Normale Superieure
48 boulevard Jourdan
75014 Paris
France

Université du Maine - Groupe d' Analyse des Itineraires et Niveaux Salariaux (GAINS) ( email )

72085 Le Mans Cedex 9
France

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Thepthida Sopraseuth

Université du Maine ( email )

72085 Le Mans Cedex 9
France

University of Angers - Centre d'Etudes Prospectives d'Economie Mathematique Appliquees a la Planification (CEPREMAP)

Ecole Normale Superieure
48 boulevard Jourdan
75014 Paris
France

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