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Household responses to individual shocks: Disability and labour supply

TitleHousehold responses to individual shocks: Disability and labour supply
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsGallipoli, G., and Turner L.
JournalCLSRN Working Papers
Date PublishedMay
Keywordsdisability, idiosyncratic risk, intrahousehold insurance, life cycle labour supply

What are idiosyncratic shocks and how do people respond to them? This paper starts from the observation that idiosyncratic shocks are experienced at the individual level, but responses to shocks can encompass the whole household. Understanding and accurately modeling these responses is essential to the analysis of intra-household allocations, especially labor supply. Using longitudinal data from the Canadian Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) we exploit information about disability and health status to develop a life-cycle framework which rationalizes observed responses of household members to idiosyncratic shocks. Two puzzling findings associated to disability onset motivate our work: (1) the almost complete absence of 'added worker ' effects within households and, (2) the fact that single agents ' labor supply responses to disability shocks are larger and more persistent than those of married agents. We show that a first-pass, basic model of the household has predictions about dynamic labor supply responses which are at odds with these facts; despite such failure, we argue that these facts are consistent with optimal household behavior when we account for two simple mechanisms: the first mechanism relates to selection into and out of marriage, while the second hinges on insurance

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