Household vs. Personal Accounts of the U.S. Labor Market, 1965-2000
28 Pages Posted: 4 Mar 2004 Last revised: 14 Sep 2010
Date Written: February 2004
The empirical labor supply literature includes some simple aggregate studies, and some individual-level studies explicitly accounting for heterogeneity and the discrete choice, but sometimes leaving open the ultimately aggregate questions that motivated the study. As a middle ground, we construct household-based measures of labor supply by within-household aggregating answers to the usual weeks and hours worked questionnaire items. Household (H) measures are substantially different than the more familiar person (P) measures: H employment rates are relatively higher, with little trend, and relatively little fluctuations. From the H point of view, essentially all aggregate hours trends and fluctuations can be attributed to changes on the intensive' margin and not the extensive' margin a characterization that is opposite of that derived from P measures. The cross-H distribution of hours is richer, and less spiked, than the cross-P distribution. Labor supply is more wage elastic from an H point of view.
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