The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper extends the equilibrium business cycle framework to incorporate ex ante skill heterogeneity among workers. Consistent with the empirical evidence, skilled and unskilled workers in the model face the same degree of cyclical variation in real wages although unskilled workers are subject to substantially higher procyclical variation in employment. Systematic cyclical changes in the average skill level of employed workers are shown to induce bias in aggregate measures of cyclical variation in the labor input, productivity, and the real wage. The introduction of skill heterogeneity improves the model’s ability to match the empirical correlation between total hours and the real wage but the correlation between total hours and labor productivity remains higher than in the data.