Jean Flemming
Postdoctoral Prize Research Fellow
University of Oxford
Department of Economics
Nuffield College
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Working Papers

Costly Commuting and the Job Ladder  [draft coming soon!]

    Abstract: Even though households in the UK spent over £1,000 per worker on commuting in 2017, the economic cost of commuting may be far higher because commuting and the associated congestion affect workers' incentives for job search and acceptance. At the same time, workers' job acceptance decisions determine commuting patterns and therefore aggregate congestion. Using UK data on commuting and employment outcomes, I find a strong positive relationship between commuting time and future job mobility. To understand the empirical patterns and quantify the aggregate implications, I build a novel model featuring a frictional labor market in which commuting gives rise to congestion as workers travel similar paths to work. I consider the interaction between congestion, employment, aggregate productivity, and housing rents as workers move from job to job and across space. Since it takes time to find a close and productive job, and because moving house is costly, many workers commute to distant jobs. In doing so, they contribute to congestion and affect the incentives of other workers to accept job offers. The quantitative model is calibrated to match features of the London area and suggests that a significant share of wage and utility dispersion is a result of congestion. Policies targeting infrastructure without explicitly targeting congestion have little effect on welfare, but remote working policies can lead to large welfare gains.

Skill Accumulation In The Market and At Home

R&R, Journal of Economic Theory
    Abstract: An evolving outside option is introduced into a stochastic directed search model with skill loss during nonemployment. The theoretical model implies that average reemployment wages are only mildly sensitive to unemployment duration while the job finding probability is highly sensitive to duration, two facts documented in the literature. The calibrated model is used to decompose the declining hazard out of unemployment, implying a nontrivial role for duration dependence. The addition of aggregate shocks leads to an asymmetric response of the unemployment rate during and after recessions, with more severe recessions resulting in stronger hysteresis in labor force participation.

News and Macroprudential Policy

(with Jean-Paul L'Huillier and Facundo Piguillem)

R&R, Journal of International Economics
    Abstract: Motivated by the deregulation of U.S. credit markets at the turn of the century, we analyze the cyclical properties of constrained optimal debt taxation in a quantitative model with systemic externalities. We focus on shocks to future income (news shocks), a salient feature of the U.S. economy during the late 1990s. In good times (positive news), it is optimal to allow for more borrowing in order to allow for consumption smoothing. When borrowing reaches a threshold, the economy enters a region where crises can occur. This pushes the Ramsey planner to tax borrowing. Thus, the constrained planner taxes borrowing in good times and when debt accumulation is high enough. Instead, in bad times, no taxation is necessary: agents anticipate that their income will be low and they save, escaping the possibility of a crisis. We contrast our findings to the case of standard, contemporaneous, shocks to income. Whereas under news shocks it is necessary to tax debt in good times, under contemporaneous shocks it is necessary to tax debt in bad times, when agents dig into their precautionary savings to smooth consumption. In a quantitative application to the U.S. economy from 1990 to 2015 we find that about half of the household leveraging can be judged as socially optimal from the perspective of a benchmark model.

Work In Progress

Optimal Insurance Against Long-Term Consequences of Job Loss

(with Javier Fernandez-Blanco)


Household Inequality and Firm Savings

(with Marco Casiraghi and Facundo Piguillem)