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Gender differences in the volatility of work hours and labor demand

Amy Guisinger ()

Journal of Macroeconomics, 2020, vol. 66, issue C

Abstract: This paper examines the role of heterogeneity in a real business cycle model, which traditionally has not fully captured the relative volatility of hours to output. Men and women have different cyclical volatilities in hours worked, which is robust to different filtering methods. This empirical regularity is used to motivate a standard RBC model augmented to allow for two different agents following Jaimovich et al. (2013). These two agents have identical utility functions, but face different elasticities of labor demand due to their different complementarities with capital. These estimated elasticities find that women are more complementary to capital. The calibrated model generates the cyclical volatility of work hours by gender and for the total hours worked that matches the U.S. data better than the traditional representative agent model. I then explore other extensions to this model including investigating the stability of the estimated labor demand elasticities and allowing for various Frisch elasticities of labor supply. This paper demonstrates that allowing for even broad levels of heterogeneity in a simple framework can increase the model’s tractability with the data. Since gender is important to explain U.S. business cycle dynamics, we need to carefully consider heterogeneity when analyzing counter-cyclical economic policy, as it may not have symmetric effects across assorted groups.

Keywords: Heterogeneity; Labor demand; Gender; RBC (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: E13 E32 J23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jmacro.2020.103254

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