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A Comment on the Economics of Labor Adjustment: Mind the Gap: Evidence from a Monte Carlo Experiment

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  • Christian Bayer

Abstract

This comment addresses a point raised in Russell Cooper and Jonathan Willis (2003, 2004), which discusses whether the "gap approach" is appropriate to describe the adjustment of production factors. They show that this approach to labor adjustment as applied in Ricardo J. Caballero, Eduardo Engel, and John C. Haltiwanger (1997) and Caballero and Engel (1993) can falsely generate evidence in favor of nonconvex adjustment costs, even if costs are quadratic. Simulating a dynamic model of firm-level employment decisions with quadratic adjustment costs and estimating a gap model from the simulated data, they identify two factors producing this spurious evidence: approximating dynamic adjustment targets by static ones, and estimating the static targets themselves. This comment reassesses whether the first factor indeed leads to spurious evidence in favor of fixed adjustment costs. We show that the numerical approximation of the productivity process is pivotal for Cooper and Willis's finding. With more precise approximations of the productivity process, it becomes rare to falsely reject the quadratic adjustment cost model due to the approximation of dynamic targets by static ones. (JEL E24, J3)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 2258-66

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:5:p:2258-66

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.5.2258
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  1. Russell Cooper & Jonathan Willis, 2009. "The Cost of Labor Adjustment: Inferences from the Gap," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(4), pages 632-647, October.
  2. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo Engel & John Haltiwanger, 1996. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building from Microeconomic Evidence," Documentos de Trabajo 6, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  3. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M.R.A. Engel, 2004. "A Comment on the Economics of Labor Adjustment: Mind the Gap: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1238-1244, September.
  4. Sargent, Thomas J, 1978. "Estimation of Dynamic Labor Demand Schedules under Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 1009-44, December.
  5. Jerome Adda & Russell W. Cooper, 2003. "Dynamic Economics: Quantitative Methods and Applications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012014, December.
  6. Russell Cooper & Jonathan L. Willis, 2001. "The economics of labor adjustment : mind the gap," Research Working Paper RWP 01-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  7. Russell Cooper & Jonathan L. Willis, 2009. "A Comment on the Economics of Labor Adjustment: Mind the Gap: Evidence from a Monte Carlo Experiment: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2267-76, December.
  8. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M. R. A. Engel & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Plant-Level Adjustment and Aggregate Investment Dynamics," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 1-54.
  9. Russell Cooper & Jonathan L. Willis, 2004. "A Comment on the Economics of Labor Adjustment: Mind the Gap," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1223-1237, September.
  10. Tauchen, George, 1986. "Finite state markov-chain approximations to univariate and vector autoregressions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-181.
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Cited by:
  1. Russell Cooper & Jonathan L. Willis, 2009. "A Comment on the Economics of Labor Adjustment: Mind the Gap: Evidence from a Monte Carlo Experiment: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2267-76, December.

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