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Trading down and the business cycle
The authors document two facts: First, during recessions consumers trade down in the quality of the goods and services they consume. Second, the production of low-quality goods is less labor intensive than that of high-quality goods. Therefore, when households trade down, labor demand falls, increasing the severity of recessions. The authors find that the trading-down phenomenon accounts for a substantial fraction of the fall in U.S. employment in the recent recession. They study two business cycle models that embed quality choice and find that the presence of quality choice magnifies the ...