Monetary Policy and Heterogeneous Labor Markets

2019-08-13T16:18:46Z (GMT) by Pritha Chaudhuri
Labor market indicators such as unemployment and labor force participation show a significant amount of heterogeneity across demographic groups, which is often not incorporated in monetary policy analysis. This dissertation is composed of three essays that explore the effect of labor market heterogeneity on the design and conduct of monetary policy. The first chapter, Effect of Monetary Policy Shocks on Labor Market Outcomes, studies this question empirically by looking at dynamics of macroeconomic outcomes to a monetary policy shock. I construct a measure of monetary policy shock using narrative methods that represent the unanticipatory changes in policy. Impulse response of unemployment rates for high and low-skill workers show low-skill workers bear a greater burden of contractionary monetary policy shock. Their unemployment rates increase by almost four times that of the high-skill group. Even though we see differences in dynamic response of unemployment rates, the empirical analysis shows some puzzling results where effects of contractionary shock are expansionary in nature. Moreover, these results are plagued by the “recursiveness assumption” that the shock does not affect current output and prices, which is at odds with theoretical models in the New Keynesian literature. In the second chapter, Skill Heterogeneity in an Estimated DSGE Model, I use a structural model to better identify these shocks and study dynamic responses of outcomes to economic shocks. I build a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model, which captures skill heterogeneity in the U.S. labor market. I use Bayesian estimation techniques with data on unemployment and wages to obtain distribution of key parameters of the model. Low-skilled workers have a higher elasticity of labor supply and labor demand, contributing to the flatness of the wage Phillips curve estimated using aggregate data. A contractionary monetary policy shock has immediate effects on output and prices, lowering both output and inflation. Moreover, it increases unemployment rates for both high and low-skill groups, the magnitude being larger for the latter group. The presence of labor market heterogeneity will have new implications for the design of monetary policy, that I study in the third chapter, Optimal Monetary Policy with Skill Heterogeneity. I design an optimal policy for the central bank where policymakers respond to the different inflation-unemployment trade-off between high and low-skill workers. The monetary authority must strike a balance between stabilization of inflation, GDP and outcomes of high and low-skill workers separately. This optimal policy can be implemented by a simple interest rate rule with unemployment rates for high and low-skill workers and this policy is welfare improving.