Human Capital Risk, Contract Enforcement, and the Macroeconomy
We develop a macroeconomic model with physical and human capital, human capital risk, and limited contract enforcement. We show analytically that young (high-return) households are the most exposed to human capital risk and are also the least insured. We document this risk-insurance pattern in data on life-insurance drawn from the Survey of Consumer Finance. A calibrated version of the model can quantitatively account for the life-cycle variation of insurance observed in the US data and implies welfare costs of under-insurance for young households that are equivalent to a 4 percent reduction in lifetime consumption. A policy reform that makes consumer bankruptcy more costly leads to a substantial increase in the volume of credit and insurance.
We thank seminar participants at various institutions and conferences for useful comments. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Federal Reserve System, or the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Tom Krebs & Moritz Kuhn & Mark L. J. Wright, 2015. "Human Capital Risk, Contract Enforcement, and the Macroeconomy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(11), pages 3223-72, November. citation courtesy of