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The Challenge of High Unemployment

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  • Alan S. Blinder

Abstract

It is argued that policymakers, macroeconomists and microeconomists should all take high unemployment more seriously. The shortcomings of existing theories of unemployment are discussed, and a new definition of involuntary unemployment is proposed. A model is sketched in which falling aggregate demand leads to "Keynesian" unemployment because labor is heterogeneous and relative wages matter. Microeconomic theory is criticized for assuming away unemployment and, in the process, radically changing the answers to some basic questions in trade theory and public finance. Finally, some speculative explanations are offered for the low unemployment now found in states like New Jersey and Massachusetts.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2489.

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Date of creation: Jan 1988
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Publication status: published as Blinder, Alan S. "The Challenge of High Unemployment." From The American Economic Review, Vol. 78, No. 2, pp. 1-15, (May 1988).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2489

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  1. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem," Working papers 427, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Caplin, Andrew S & Spulber, Daniel F, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 703-25, November.
  3. Alan S. Blinder, 1981. "Retail Inventory Behavior and Business Fluctuations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(2), pages 443-520.
  4. Ball, Laurence & Romer, David, 1990. "Real Rigidities and the Non-neutrality of Money," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 183-203, April.
  5. Riordan, Michael H & Staiger, Robert W, 1993. "Sectoral Shocks and Structural Unemployment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(3), pages 611-29, August.
  6. Alan S. Blinder, 1986. "Keynes after Lucas," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 209-216, Jul-Sep.
  7. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  8. Mankiw, N Gregory, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-38, May.
  9. Akerlof, George A, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-69, November.
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  11. Dixit, Avinash, 1976. "Public finance in a Keynesian temporary equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 242-258, April.
  12. Gordon, Robert J, 1988. "The Role of Wages in the Inflation Process," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 276-83, May.
  13. Avner Bar-Ilan & Alan S. Blinder, 1987. "Consumer Durables and the Optimality of Usually Doing Nothing," NBER Working Papers 2488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Kiefer, Nicholas M & Neumann, George R, 1979. "An Empirical Job-Search Model, with a Test of the Constant Reservation-Wage Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(1), pages 89-107, February.
  15. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro, 1987. "Monopolistic Competition and the Effects of Aggregate Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 647-66, September.
  16. Brecher, Richard A, 1974. "Minimum Wage Rates and the Pure Theory of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 98-116, February.
  17. Olivier J. Blanchard, 1987. "Why Does Money Affect Output? A Survey," Working papers 453, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  18. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1980. "Factor Market Dynamics and the Incidence of Taxes and Subsidies," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 751-64, December.
  19. Ball, Laurence & Romer, David, 1989. "Are Prices Too Sticky?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(3), pages 507-24, August.
  20. Kim B. Clark & Lawrence H. Summers, 1979. "Labor Market Dynamics and Unemployemnt: A Reconsideration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 10(1), pages 13-72.
  21. James M. Poterba & Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1985. "A Tax-Based Test for Nominal Rigidities," Working papers 376, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  22. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1985. "A Near-rational Model of the Business Cycle, with Wage and Price Intertia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(5), pages 823-38, Supp..
  23. Geary, Patrick T & Kennan, John, 1982. "The Employment-Real Wage Relationship: An International Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 854-71, August.
  24. Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Why is the Unemployment Rate So Very High near Full Employment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 17(2), pages 339-396.
  25. Altonji, Joseph & Ashenfelter, Orley, 1980. "Wage Movements and the Labour Market Equilibrium Hypothesis," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 47(187), pages 217-45, August.
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