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Employment and Unemployment in the 1930s

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  • Robert A. Margo

Abstract

Recent research on labor markets in the 1930s has shifted attention from aggregate to disaggregate time series and towards microeconomic evidence. The paper begins by reviewing the conventional statistics of the United States labor market during the Great Depression and the paradigms to explain them. It then turns to recent studies of employment and unemployment using disaggregated data of various types. The paper concludes with discussions of research on other aspects of labor markets in the 1930s and on a promising source of microdata for future work.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.7.2.41
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 7 (1993)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 41-59

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:7:y:1993:i:2:p:41-59

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.7.2.41
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  1. Simon, Curtis J & Nardinelli, Clark, 1992. "Does Industrial Diversity Always Reduce Unemployment? Evidence from the Great Depression and After," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(2), pages 384-97, April.
  2. Ben Bernanke & Martin Parkinson, 1989. "Unemployment, Inflation, and Wages in the American Depression: Are There Lessons for Europe?," NBER Working Papers 2862, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Sundstrom, William A., 1992. "Last Hired, First Fired? Unemployment and Urban Black Workers During the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(02), pages 415-429, June.
  4. O'Brien, Anthony Patrick, 1989. "A Behavioral Explanation for Nominal Wage Rigidity during the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 719-35, November.
  5. Robert A. Margo, 1990. "The Microeconomics of Depression Unemployment," NBER Historical Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 0018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. J. Bradford De Long & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "Is Increased Price Flexibility Stabilizing?," NBER Working Papers 1686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Whatley, Warren C., 1983. "Labor for the Picking: the New Deal in the South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(04), pages 905-929, December.
  8. Goldin, Claudia & Margo, Robert A, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34, February.
  9. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1969. "Real Wages, Employment, and Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 721-54, Sept./Oct.
  10. Smith, James P, 1984. "Race and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 685-98, September.
  11. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1972. "Unemployment in the Great Depression: Is There a Full Explanation?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(1), pages 186-91, Jan.-Feb..
  12. Eichengreen, Barry & Hatton, Tim, 1988. "Interwar Unemployment in International Perspective," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley qt7bw188gk, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  13. Smiley, Gene, 1983. "Recent Unemployment Rate Estimates for the 1920s and 1930s," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(02), pages 487-493, June.
  14. Rees, Albert, 1970. "On Equilibrium in Labor Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 306-10, March-Apr.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael D. Bordo & Charles L. Evans, 1993. "Labor productivity during the Great Depression," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago 93-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Joshua L. Rosenbloom & William A. Sundstrom, 1997. "The Sources of Regional Variation in the Severity of the Great Depression: Evidence from U.S. Manufacturing, 1919-1937," NBER Working Papers 6288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Richard B. Freeman, 2013. "Failing the Test? The Flexible U.S. Job Market in the Great Recession," NBER Working Papers 19587, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jon Cohen & Michelle Alexopoulos, 2012. "The Media is the Measure: Technical change and employment, 1909-1949," 2012 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 301, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Herman De Jong & Pieter Woltjer, 2011. "Depression dynamics: a new estimate of the Anglo‐American manufacturing productivity gap in the interwar period," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, Economic History Society, vol. 64(2), pages 472-492, 05.
  6. Kris Inwood & Chris Minns & Lee Summerfield, 2014. "Reverse assimilation? Immigrants in the Canadian labour market during the Great Depression," Economic History Working Papers, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History 57209, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  7. Russell Cooper & Dean Corbae, 1997. "Financial Fragility and the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 6094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Price V. Fishback & John Joseph Wallis, 2012. "What Was New About the New Deal?," NBER Working Papers 18271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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