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Author:Hurst, Erik 

Discussion Paper
Lifestyle prices and production
Using scanner data and time diaries, we document how households substitute time for money through shopping and home production. We find evidence that there is substantial heterogeneity in prices paid across households for identical consumption goods in the same metro area at any given point in time. For identical goods, prices paid are highest for middle-aged, rich, and large households, consistent with the hypothesis that shopping intensity is low when the cost of time is high. The data suggest that a doubling of shopping frequency lowers the price paid for a given good by approximately 10 percent. From this elasticity and observed shopping intensity, we impute the shopper?s opportunity cost of time, which peaks in middle age at a level roughly 40 percent higher than that of retirees. Using this measure of the price of time and observed time spent in home production, we estimate the parameters of a home production function. We find an elasticity of substitution between time and market goods in home production of close to 2. Finally, we use the estimated elasticities for shopping and home production to calibrate an augmented lifecycle consumption model. The augmented model predicts the observed empirical patterns quite well. Taken together, our results highlight the danger of interpreting lifecycle expenditure without acknowledging the changing demands on time and the available margins of substituting time for money.
AUTHORS: Hurst, Erik; Aguiar, Mark
DATE: 2005

Discussion Paper
Social Security and unsecured debt
Most young households simultaneously hold both unsecured debt on which they pay an average of 10 percent interest and social security wealth on which they earn less than 2 percent. We document this fact using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. We then consider a life-cycle model with ?tempted? households, who find it impossible to commit to an optimal consumption plan and ?disciplined? households who have no such problem, and we explore ways to reduce this inefficiency. We show that allowing households to use social security wealth to pay off debt while exempting young households from social security contributions (but in both cases requiring higher contributions later) leads to increases in welfare for both types of households and, for disciplined households, to significant increases in consumption and saving and reductions in debt.
AUTHORS: Hurst, Erik; Willen, Paul S.
DATE: 2004

Working Paper
Measuring trends in leisure: the allocation of time over five decades
In this paper, we use five decades of time-use surveys to document trends in the allocation of time. We document that a dramatic increase in leisure time lies behind the relatively stable number of market hours worked (per working-age adult) between 1965 and 2003. Specifically, we document that leisure for men increased by 6-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in market work hours) and for women by 4-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in home production work hours). This increase in leisure corresponds to roughly an additional 5 to 10 weeks of vacation per year, assuming a 40-hour work week. We also find that leisure increased during the last 40 years for a number of sub-samples of the population, with less-educated adults experiencing the largest increases. Lastly, we document a growing ?inequality? in leisure that is the mirror image of the growing inequality of wages and expenditures, making welfare calculation based solely on the latter series incomplete.
AUTHORS: Aguiar, Mark; Hurst, Erik
DATE: 2006

Working Paper
Within-city variation in urban decline: the case of Detroit
When a city experiences a decline in income or population, do all neighborhoods within the city decline equally? Or do some neighborhoods decline more than others? What are the characteristics of the neighborhoods that decline the most? We answer these questions by looking at what happened to neighborhoods within Detroit as the city experienced a sharp decline in income and population from the 1980s to the late 2000s. We find patterns of changes in income and population that are consistent with the model and empirical patterns of gentrification presented in Guerrieri, Hartley, and Hurst (2011), only playing out in reverse.
AUTHORS: Hurst, Erik; Guerrieri, Veronica; Hartley, Daniel
DATE: 2012

Working Paper
Endogenous gentrification and housing price dynamics
Using a unique dataset of interest rates offered by a large sample of U.S. banks on various retail deposit and loan products, we explore the rigidity of bank retail interest rates. We study periods over which retail interest rates remain fixed ("spells") and document a large degree of lumpiness of retail interest rate adjustments as well as substantial variation in the duration of these spells, both across and within different products. To explore the sources of this variation we apply duration analysis and calculate the probability that a bank will change a given deposit or loan rate under various conditions. Consistent with a nonconvex adjustment costs theory, we find that the probability of a bank changing its retail rate is initially increasing with time. Then as heterogeneity of the sample overwhelms this effect, the hazard rate decreases with time. The duration of the spells is significantly affected by the accumulated change in money market interest rates since the last retail rate change, the size of the bank and its geographical scope.
AUTHORS: Guerrieri, Veronica; Hartley, Daniel; Hurst, Erik
DATE: 2010

Conference Paper
The macroeconomic transition to high household debt - comments
AUTHORS: Hurst, Erik
DATE: 2006-11

Conference Paper
Measuring trends in leisure
In this paper, we use five decades of time-use surveys to document trends in the allocation of time. We find that a dramatic increase in leisure time lies behind the relatively stable number of market hours worked (per working-age adult) between 1965 and 2003. Specifically, we show that leisure for men increased by 6-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in market work hours) and for women by 4-8 hours per week (driven by a decline in home production work hours). This increase in leisure corresponds to roughly an additional 5 to 10 weeks of vacation per year, assuming a 40-hour work week. Alternatively, the ?consumption equivalent? of the increase in leisure is valued at 8 to 9 percent of total 2003 U.S. consumption expenditures. We also find that leisure increased during the last 40 years for a number of sub-samples of the population, with less educated adults experiencing the largest increases. Lastly, we document a growing ?inequality? in leisure that is the mirror image of the growing inequality of wages and expenditures, making welfare calculation based solely on the latter series incomplete.
AUTHORS: Aguiar, Mark; Hurst, Erik
DATE: 2006

Working Paper
Are household surveys like tax forms: evidence from income underreporting of the self-employed
There is a large literature showing that the self-employed underreport their income to tax authorities. In this paper, we quantify the extent to which the self-employed also systematically underreport their income in U.S. household surveys. To do so, we use the Engel curve describing the relationship between income and expenditures of wage and salary workers to infer the actual income, and thus the reporting gap, of the self-employed based on their reported expenditures. We find that the self-employed underreport their income by about 30 percent. This result is remarkably robust across data sources and alternative model specifications. Failing to account for such income underreporting leads to biased conclusions. We document this bias in existing measures of earnings differentials, wealth differentials, precautionary savings, lifecycle earnings profiles, and earnings variation across MSAs. Our results show that it is naive for researchers to take it for granted that individuals will provide unbiased information to household surveys given their demonstrated tendency of providing distorted reports of the same information to other administrative sources.
AUTHORS: Hurst, Erik; Li, Geng; Pugsley, Benjamin
DATE: 2011

Report
Wealth, tastes, and entrepreneurial choice
The nonpecuniary benefits of managing a small business are a first order consideration for many nascent entrepreneurs, yet the preference for business ownership is mostly ignored in models of entrepreneurship and occupational choice. In this paper, we study a population with varying entrepreneurial tastes and wealth in a simple general equilibrium model of occupational choice. This choice yields several important results: (1) entrepreneurship can be thought of as a normal good, generating wealth effects independent of any financing constraints; (2) nonpecuniary entrepreneurs select into small-scale firms; and (3) subsidies designed to stimulate more business entry can have regressive distributional effects. Despite abstracting from other important considerations such as risk, financing constraints, and innovation, we show that nonpecuniary compensation is particularly relevant in discussions of small businesses.
AUTHORS: Hurst, Erik; Pugsley, Benjamin
DATE: 2015-10-01

Report
Regional heterogeneity and the refinancing channel of monetary policy
We argue that the time-varying regional distribution of housing equity influences the aggregate consequences of monetary policy through its effects on mortgage refinancing. Using detailed loan-level data, we show that regional differences in housing equity affect refinancing and spending responses to interest rate cuts but that these effects vary over time with changes in the regional distribution of house price growth. We then build a heterogeneous household model of refinancing with both mortgage borrowers and lenders and use it to explore the aggregate implications for monetary policy arising from our regional evidence. We find that the 2008 equity distribution made spending in depressed regions less responsive to interest rate cuts, thus dampening aggregate stimulus and increasing regional consumption inequality, whereas the opposite occurred in some earlier recessions. Taken together, our results strongly suggest that monetary policy makers should track the regional distribution of equity over time.
AUTHORS: Hurst, Erik; Vavra, Joseph; Beraja, Martin; Fuster, Andreas
DATE: 2015-06-01

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