NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Inflation as a Redistribution Shock: Effects on Aggregates and Welfare

Matthias Doepke, Martin Schneider

NBER Working Paper No. 12319
Issued in June 2006
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth

Episodes of unanticipated inflation reduce the real value of nominal claims and thus redistribute wealth from lenders to borrowers. In this study, we consider redistribution as a channel for aggregate and welfare effects of inflation. We model an inflation episode as an unanticipated shock to the wealth distribution in a quantitative overlapping-generations model of the U.S. economy. While the redistribution shock is zero sum, households react asymmetrically, mostly because borrowers are younger on average than lenders. As a result, inflation generates a decrease in labor supply as well as an increase in savings. Even though inflation-induced redistribution has a persistent negative effect on output, it improves the weighted welfare of domestic households.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12319

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