The price and quantity of residential land in the United States
We combine publicly available data from Freddie Mac, the Decennial Census of Housing, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis to construct the first constant-quality aggregate price index for the stock of residential land in the United States. We uncover five main results: (a) since 1970, residential land prices have grown faster but (b) have also been twice as volatile as existing home prices; (c) averaged from 1970 to 2003, the nominal stock of residential land under 1-4 unit structures accounts for 38% of the market value of the housing stock and is equal to 50% of nominal annual GDP; (d) the ...
Optimal Age-Based Vaccination and Economic Mitigation Policies for the Second Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic
In this paper we ask how to best allocate a given time-varying supply of vaccines during the second phase of the Covid-19 pandemic across individuals of different ages. Building on the heterogeneous household model of optimal economic mitigation and redistribution developed by Glover et al. (2021), we contrast the actual vaccine deployment path that prioritized older individuals with one that first vaccinates younger workers. Vaccinating older adults first saves more lives but slows the economic recovery relative to inoculating younger adults first. Vaccines carry large welfare benefits in ...
Health versus Wealth: On the Distributional Effects of Controlling a Pandemic
To slow the spread of COVID-19, many countries are shutting down nonessential sectors of the economy. Older individuals have the most to gain from slowing virus diffusion. Younger workers in sectors that are shuttered have the most to lose. In this paper, we build a model in which economic activity and disease progression are jointly determined. Individuals differ by age (young and retired), by sector (basic and luxury), and by health status. Disease transmission occurs in the workplace, in consumption activities, at home, and in hospitals. We study the optimal economic mitigation policy of a ...
College Tuition and Income Inequality
This paper evaluates the role of rising income inequality in explaining observed growth in college tuition. We develop a competitive model of the college market in which college quality depends on instructional expenditure and the average ability of admitted students. An innovative feature of our model is that it allows for a continuous distribution of college quality. We find that observed increases in US income inequality can explain more than the entire observed rise in average net tuition since 1990 and that rising income inequality has also depressed college attendance.
Housing and the business cycle
In the United States, the percentage standard deviation of residential investment is more than twice that of non-residential investment. In addition, GDP, consumption, and both types of investment co-move positively. We reproduce these facts in a calibrated multi-sector growth model where construction, manufacturing and services are combined, in different proportions, to produce consumption, business investment and residential structures. New housing requires land in addition to new structures. The model can also account for important features of industry-level data. In particular, hours and ...
Dollarization and financial integration
How does a country's choice of exchange rate regime impact its ability to borrow from abroad? We build a small open economy model in which the government can potentially respond to shocks via domestic monetary policy and by international borrowing. We assume that debt repayment must be incentive compatible when the default punishment is equivalent to permanent exclusion from debt markets. We compare a floating regime to full dollarization. ; We find that dollarization is potentially beneficial, even though it means the loss of the monetary instrument, precisely because this loss can ...
Optimal Progressivity with Age-Dependent Taxation
This paper studies optimal taxation of labor earnings when the degree of tax progressivity is allowed to vary with age. We analyze this question in a tractable equilibrium overlapping-generations model that incorporates a number of salient trade-offs in tax design. Tax progressivity provides insurance against ex-ante heterogeneity and earnings uncertainty that missing markets fail to deliver. However, taxes distort labor supply and human capital investments. Uninsurable risk cumulates over the life cycle, and thus the welfare gains from income compression via progressive taxation increase ...
On the Desirability of Capital Controls
In a standard two-country international macro model, we ask whether imposing restrictions on international non contingent borrowing and lending is ever desirable. The answer is yes. If one country imposes capital controls unilaterally, it can generate favorable changes in the dynamics of equilibrium interest rates and the terms of trade, and thereby benefit at the expense of its trading partner. If both countries simultaneously impose capital controls, the welfare effects are ambiguous. We identify calibrations in which symmetric capital controls improve terms of trade insurance against ...
Quantitative macroeconomics with heterogeneous households
Macroeconomics is evolving from the study of aggregate dynamics to the study of the dynamics of the entire equilibrium distribution of allocations across individual economic actors. This article reviews the quantitative macroeconomic literature that focuses on household heterogeneity, with a special emphasis on the ?standard? incomplete markets model. We organize the vast literature according to three themes that are central to understanding how inequality matters for macroeconomics. First, what are the most important sources of individual risk and cross-sectional heterogeneity? Second, what ...
Practical Optimal Income Taxation
We review methods used to numerically compute optimal Mirrleesian tax and transfer schedules in heterogeneous agent economies. We show that the coarseness of the productivity grid, while a technical detail in terms of theory, is critical for delivering quantitative policy prescriptions. Existing methods are reliable only when a very fine grid is used. The problem is acute for computational approaches that use a version of the Diamond-Saez implicit optimal tax formula. If using a very fine grid for productivity is impractical, then optimizing within a flexible parametric class is preferable to ...