Borrowing Constraints, Search, and Life-Cycle Inequality
Benjamin Griffy ()
Discussion Papers from University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics
This paper quantifies the impact of borrowing constraints on consumption and earnings inequality in a life-cycle model with labor market search and endogenous human capital accumulation. I first show that following an unemployment spell, likely-constrained workers in the Survey of Income and Program Participation match to jobs that pay more per quarter when they receive an increase in their unemployment insurance. I then construct a life-cycle model with risk averse workers who face borrowing constraints, accumulate human capital endogenously, and search both on and off the job. I use indirect inference to estimate the model parameters, and show that wealth inequality causes both placement into lower-paying jobs as well as slower human capital accumulation when workers face borrowing constraints. Unemployment risk is partially responsible for this change in human capital accumulation. I compare changes in initial conditions and find that a standard deviation decrease in initial wealth causes a larger decline in life-cycle consumption than a standard deviation decrease in initial human capital.
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