Intergenerational Redistribution in the Great Recession
78 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2015
Date Written: January 2014
In this paper we construct a stochastic overlapping-generations general equilibrium model in which households are subject to aggregate shocks that affect both wages and asset prices. We use a calibrated version of the model to quantify how the welfare costs of severe recessions are distributed across different household age groups. The model predicts that younger cohorts fare better than older cohorts when the equilibrium decline in asset prices is large relative to the decline in wages, as observed in the data. Asset price declines hurt the old, who rely on asset sales to finance consumption, but they benefit the young, who purchase assets at depressed prices. In our preferred calibration, asset prices decline close to three times as much as wages, consistent with the experience of the U.S. economy in the Great Recession. A model recession is almost welfare-neutral for households in the 20-29 age group, but translates into a large welfare loss of around 10 percent of lifetime consumption for households aged 70 and over.
Keywords: Recessions, overlapping generations, asset prices, aggregate risk
JEL Classification: E21, D31, D58, D91
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