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Modern Theory of Unemployment Fluctuations: Empirics and Policy Applications

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  • Robert E. Hall

Abstract

Strong and widely accepted evidence shows that the natural rate of unemployment varies over time with substantial amplitude. The frictions in the labor market that account for positive normal levels of unemployment are not simple and mechanical. Instead, as a rich modern body of theory demonstrates, the natural rate of unemployment is an equilibrium in which the volumes of job-seeking by workers and worker-seeking by employers reach a balance controlled by fundamental determinants of the relative prices of the two activities. In recessions, unemployment rises, and job vacancies fall. The natural explanation is an economywide fall in labor demand. But a compelling model that generates a fall in labor demand without a counterfactual fall in productivity has eluded theorists to date. Nonetheless, policymakers have appropriately adopted the view that the natural rate varies over time and is not a simple benchmark for setting monetary instruments.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. Hall, 2003. "Modern Theory of Unemployment Fluctuations: Empirics and Policy Applications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 145-150, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:93:y:2003:i:2:p:145-150
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282803321946958
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. George L. Perry, 1970. "Changing Labor Markets and Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 1(3), pages 411-448.
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    Cited by:

    1. Raven E. Saks & Abigail Wozniak, 2011. "Labor Reallocation over the Business Cycle: New Evidence from Internal Migration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(4), pages 697-739.
    2. Heaton, Chris & Oslington, Paul, 2010. "Micro vs macro explanations of post-war US unemployment movements," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 106(2), pages 87-91, February.
    3. Thomas Lubik & Michael Krause, 2004. "On-the-Job Search and the Cyclical Dynamics of the Labor Market," Economics Working Paper Archive 513, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    4. Jens Rubart, 2006. "Dismissal Protection or Wage Flexibility," Computing in Economics and Finance 2006 406, Society for Computational Economics.
    5. Thomas A. Lubik & Michael U. Krause, 2004. "On-the-Job Search and Business Cycle Dynamics," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 489, Econometric Society.
    6. Jean-Pierre Danthine & André Kurmann, 2008. "The Macroeconomic Consequences of Reciprocity in Labor Relations," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 109(4), pages 857-881, March.
    7. Thomas B. King, 2005. "Labor productivity and job-market flows: trends, cycles, and correlations," Supervisory Policy Analysis Working Papers 2005-04, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    8. Miquel Faig, 2008. "Labor Market Cycles and Unemployment Insurance Eligibility," 2008 Meeting Papers 183, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    9. Phillip Chindamo & Lawrence Uren, 2010. "Vacancies and Unemployment in Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 43(2), pages 136-152.
    10. Robert Dixon & John Freebairn & Guay Lim, 2007. "Time-varying equilibrium rates of unemployment: an analysis with Australian data," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 10(4), pages 205-225, December.
    11. Anabela Carneiro & Paulo Guimarães & Pedro Portugal, 2009. "Real Wages and the Business Cycle: Accounting for Worker and Firm Heterogeneity," Working Papers w200910, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    12. Keshab Bhattarai & Huw Dixon, 2014. "Equilibrium Unemployment in a General Equilibrium Model with Taxes," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 82(S1), pages 90-128, September.
    13. Costain, James S. & Reiter, Michael, 2008. "Business cycles, unemployment insurance, and the calibration of matching models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1120-1155, April.
    14. Jean-Pierre DANTHINE & André KURMANN, 2004. "Efficiency Wages Revisited: The Internal Reference Perspective (new version)," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 04.09, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP, revised Jun 2005.
    15. Krause, Michael U. & Lubik, Thomas A., 2007. "On-the-job search and the cyclical dynamics of the labor market," Working Paper Series 779, European Central Bank.
    16. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
    17. Zhang Min, 2008. "Cyclical Behavior of Unemployment and Job Vacancies: A Comparison between Canada and the United States," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-37, October.
    18. Auray, Stéphane & Danthine, Samuel, 2005. "Bargaining Frictions and Hours Worked," IZA Discussion Papers 1722, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Chew Lian Chua & Robert Dixon & G. C. Lim, 2007. "What Drives Worker Flows?," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2007n34, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    20. Steven M. Shugan, 2007. ": Does Good Marketing Cause Bad Unemployment?," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(1), pages 1-17, 01-02.
    21. Bauer, Christian & Lingens, Jörg, 2010. "Individual vs. Collective Bargaining in the Large Firm Search Model," Discussion Papers in Economics 11315, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

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