NBER Publications by Andrew Postlewaite

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Working Papers and Chapters

August 2013On the Welfare Cost of Consumption Fluctuations in the Presence of Memorable Goods
with Rong Hai, Dirk Krueger: w19386
We propose a new classification of consumption goods into nondurable goods, durable goods and a new class which we call "memorable" goods. A good is memorable if a consumer can draw current utility from its past consumption experience through memory. We propose a novel consumption-savings model in which a consumer has a well-defined preference ordering over both nondurable goods and memorable goods. Memorable goods consumption differs from nondurable goods consumption in that current memorable goods consumption may also impact future utility through the accumulation process of the stock of memory. In our model, households optimally choose a lumpy profile of memorable goods consumption even in a frictionless world. Using Consumer Expenditure Survey data, we then document levels and volatili...
May 2004The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height
with Nicola Persico, Dan Silverman: w10522
Taller workers receive a wage premium. Net of differences in family background, the disparity is similar in magnitude to the race and gender gaps. We exploit variation in an individual's height over time to explore how height affects wages. Controlling for teen height essentially eliminates the effect of adult height on wages for white males. The teen height premium is not explained by differences in resources or endowments. The teen height premium is partly mediated through participation in high school sports and clubs. We estimate the monetary benefits of a medical treatment for children that increases height.
Consumption, Commitmants and Preferences for Risk
with Larry Samuelson, Dan Silverman: w10527
We examine an economy in which the cost of consuming some goods can be reduced by making commitments to consumption levels independent of the state. For example, it is cheaper to produce housing services via owner-occupied than rented housing, but the transactions costs associated with the former prompt relatively inflexible housing consumption paths. We show that consumption commitments can cause risk-neutral consumers to care about risk, creating incentives to both insure risks and bunch uninsured risks together. For example, workers may prefer to avoid wage risk while bearing an unemployment risk that is concentrated in as few states as possible.
February 1995Relative Income Concerns and the Rise in Married Women's Employment
with David Neumark: w5044
We ask whether women's decisions to be in the labor force may be affected by the decisions of other women in ways not captured by standard models. We develop a model that augments the simple neoclassical framework by introducing relative income concerns into women's (or families') utility functions. In this model, the entry of some women into paid employment can spur the entry of other women, independently of wage and income effects. This mechanism may help to explain why, over some periods, women's employment appeared to rise faster than could be accounted for by the simple neoclassical model. We test the model by asking whether women's decisions to seek paid employment depend on the employment decisions of other women with whom relative income comparisons might be important. In parti...

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