Does Redistribution Increase Output? The Centrality of Labor Supply
The aftermath of the recent recession has seen numerous calls to use transfers to poorer households as a means to enhance aggregate activity. We show that the key to understanding the direction and size of such interventions lies in labor supply decisions. We study the aggregate impact of short-term redistributive economic policy in a standard incomplete-markets model. We characterize analytically conditions under which redistribution leads to an increase or decrease in effective hours worked, and hence, output. We then show that under the parameterization that matches the wealth distribution ...
Incarceration, Earnings, and Race
Equilibrium models of personal bankruptcy : a survey
Financial Distress and Macroeconomic Risks
This paper investigates how, and how much, household financial distress (FD), arising from allowing debts to go unpaid, matters for the aggregate and cross-sectional consumption responses to macroeconomic risk. Through a battery of structural models, we show that FD can affect consumption responses through three channels: (1) as another margin of adjustment to shocks (direct channel); (2) because its persistence implies a significant degree of preference heterogeneity (indirect channel); and (3) because it can exacerbate macroeconomic risks whenever it is more severe in the hardest-hit ...
The Persistence of Financial Distress
Household financial distress is pervasive. Is this pattern driven by a small share of individuals experiencing persistent distress, by the majority facing more occasional distress, or something in between? Recent research indicates that over a lifetime, financial distress is unlikely for most but very persistent for some. Models that account for the uncertain evolution of consumers' earnings over time and the availability of formal consumer bankruptcy cannot explain ? by themselves ? this pattern, but a model that also allows for informal default and variation in consumers' willingness to ...
The Payoff from the Earned Income Tax Credit
Consumption smoothing and the measured regressivity of consumption taxes
In this article, we address two questions. First, how will a move to pure consumption taxation matter for aggregate outcomes? Second, how regressive are consumption taxes? We find as follows. First, a move to a consumption tax will increase savings taken into retirement but will not alter either labor supply or consumption variability substantially. Second, we show that regressivity is a measure that is quantitatively sensitive to the frequency of income being used. In particular, we show that when measures of tax incidence are based on annual income, successful consumption smoothing leads to ...
Bankruptcy and Delinquency in a Model of Unsecured Debt
This paper documents and interprets two facts central to the dynamics of informal default or "delinquency" on unsecured consumer debt. First, delinquency does not mean a persistent cessation of payment. In particular, we observe that for individuals 60 to 90 days late on payments, 85% make payments during the next quarter that allow them to avoid entering more severe delinquency. Second, many in delinquency (40%) have smaller debt obligations one quarter later. To understand these facts, we develop a theoretically and institutionally plausible model of debt delinquency and bankruptcy. Our ...
Who Values Access to College?
A first glance at US data suggests that college -- given its mean returns and sharply subsidized cost for all enrollees -- could be of great value to most. Using an empirically-disciplined human capital model that allows for variation in college readiness, we show otherwise. While the top decile of valuations is indeed large (40 percent of consumption), nearly half of high school completers place zero value on access to college. Subsidies to college currently flow to those already best positioned to succeed and least sensitive to them. Even modestly targeted alternatives may therefore improve ...