April 2012

IZA DP No. 6506: Labour Supply as a Buffer: Evidence from UK Households

This paper examines labour supply adjustment – both hours worked and participation decisions. We focus on the response of each to financial shocks, employing data from the BHPS. Estimated responses are broadly consistent with models of self-insurance that incorporate labour supply flexibility. The shock reflects several factors including financial wealth and a partner's employment situation. The response is significantly larger for those who change job, consistent with the importance of hours constraints within jobs. The propensity to participate in the labour market also appears to respond to the financial shock but that is somewhat less robust than the hours response.