NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Does Indivisible Labor Explain the Difference between Micro and Macro Elasticities? A Meta-Analysis of Extensive Margin Elasticities

Raj Chetty, Adam Guren, Day Manoli, Andrea Weber

Chapter in NBER book NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2012, Volume 27 (2013), Daron Acemoglu, Jonathan Parker, and Michael Woodford, editors (p. 1 - 56)
Conference held April 20-21, 2012
Published in May 2013 by University of Chicago Press
© 2013 by the National Bureau of Economic Research
in NBER Book Series NBER Macroeconomics Annual

Macroeconomic calibrations imply much larger labor supply elasticities than microeconometric studies. One prominent explanation for this divergence is that indivisible labor generates extensive margin responses that are not captured in micro studies of hours choices. We evaluate whether existing calibrations of macro models are consistent with micro evidence on extensive margin responses using two approaches. First, we use a standard calibrated macro model to simulate the impacts of tax policy changes on labor supply. Second, we present a meta-analysis of quasi-experimental estimates of extensive margin elasticities. We find that micro estimates are consistent with macro evidence on the steady-state (Hicksian) elasticities relevant for cross-country comparisons. However, micro estimates of extensive-margin elasticities are an order of magnitude smaller than the values needed to explain business cycle fluctuations in aggregate hours. Hence, indivisible labor supply does not explain the large gap between micro and macro estimates of intertemporal substitution (Frisch) elasticities. Our synthesis of the micro evidence points to Hicksian elasticities of 0.3 on the intensive and 0.25 on the extensive margin and Frisch elasticities of 0.5 on the intensive and 0.25 on the extensive margin.

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This paper was revised on June 5, 2012

Acknowledgments

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1086/669170

This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w16729, Does Indivisible Labor Explain the Difference Between Micro and Macro Elasticities? A Meta-Analysis of Extensive Margin Elasticities, Raj Chetty, Adam Guren, Dayanand S. Manoli, Andrea Weber
Commentary on this chapter:
  Comment, Orazio Attanasio
  Comment, Robert Shimer
  Discussion,
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