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On the definition of involuntary unemployment

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  • Sawyer, Malcolm
  • Spencer, David

Abstract

Keynes gave two definitions of involuntary unemployment which could be seen more as tests for the existence of involuntary unemployment than definitions. It is argued that Keynes's definitions are inadequate as tests of unemployment and in many circumstances would fail to reveal the existence of unemployment. We argue that unemployment as a theoretical construct is always involuntary, and the appearance of voluntary unemployment arises only through the mismeasurement of unemployment. We argue that involuntary unemployment has to be viewed as a macroeconomic concept rather than a microeconomic one. In a collective sense, the degree of unemployment is not the outcome of decisions made by the individuals concerned.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

Volume (Year): 37 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 718-735

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Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:37:y:2008:i:2:p:718-735

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

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  1. Weitzman, Martin L, 1982. "Increasing Returns and the Foundations of Unemployment Theory," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 787-804, December.
  2. Michel, DE VROEY, 2005. "Involuntary Unemployment : the Elusive Quest for a Theory," Discussion Papers (ECON - Département des Sciences Economiques) 2005004, Université catholique de Louvain, Département des Sciences Economiques.
  3. David A. Spencer, 2006. "Work for all those who want it? Why the neoclassical labour supply curve is an inappropriate foundation for the theory of employment and unemployment," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(3), pages 459-472, May.
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