Time to Ditch the NAIRU
The concept of a natural rate of unemployment, or nonaccelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU), remains controversial after twenty-five years. This essay presents a brief for no-confidence, in four parts. First, the theoretical case for the natural rate is not compelling. Second, the evidence for a vertical Phillips curve and the associated accelerationist hypothesis that lowering unemployment past the NAIRU leads to unacceptable acceleration of inflation is weak. Third, economists have failed to reach professional consensus on estimating the NAIRU. Fourth, adherence to the concept as a guide to policy has major social costs but negligible benefits.
Volume (Year): 11 (1997)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
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References listed on IDEAS
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- Gordon, David M, 1988. "The Un-natural Rate of Unemployment: An Econometric Critique of the NAIRU Hypothesis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 117-23, May.
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- 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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- Ray C. Fair, 1996. "Testing the Standard View of the Long-Run Unemployment-Inflation Relationship," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1121, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
- George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
- Robert E. Hall, 1970. "Why Is the Unemployment Rate So High at Full Employment?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 1(3), pages 369-410.
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- Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1981. "Tobin and Monetarism: A Review Article," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 558-67, June.
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