NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Household vs. Personal Accounts of the U.S. Labor Market, 1965-2000

Casey B. Mulligan, Yona Rubinstein

NBER Working Paper No. 10320
Issued in February 2004
NBER Program(s):   LS   PE

The empirical labor supply literature includes some simple aggregate studies, and some individual-level studies explicitly accounting for heterogeneity and the discrete choice, but sometimes leaving open the ultimately aggregate questions that motivated the study. As a middle ground, we construct household-based measures of labor supply by within-household aggregating answers to the usual weeks and hours worked questionnaire items. Household (H) measures are substantially different than the more familiar person (P) measures: H employment rates are relatively higher, with little trend, and relatively little fluctuations. From the H point of view, essentially all aggregate hours trends and fluctuations can be attributed to changes on the intensive' margin and not the extensive' margin a characterization that is opposite of that derived from P measures. The cross-H distribution of hours is richer, and less spiked, than the cross-P distribution. Labor supply is more wage elastic from an H point of view.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10320

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