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Waiting for work


  • George A. Akerlof
  • Andrew K. Rose
  • Janet L. Yellen


This paper explains upward job mobility and observed patterns of unemployment by skill as an economy recovers from a recession. Skilled unemployment is due to rational waiting by workers looking for long-term jobs when there is a "lock-in" effect. Lock-in occurs if the conditions in the labor market when a worker first accepts a job have a persistent effect on wages. Using longitudinal data, we provide empirical evidence of the cyclical pattern of wages predicted by the theory and also of lock-in.
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Suggested Citation

  • George A. Akerlof & Andrew K. Rose & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "Waiting for work," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfpr:y:1990:i:nov

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mark Gertler, 1988. "Financial structure and aggregate economic activity: an overview," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 559-596.
    2. Farmer, Roger E A, 1984. "A New Theory of Aggregate Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 920-930, December.
    3. Litterman, Robert B & Weiss, Laurence M, 1985. "Money, Real Interest Rates, and Output: A Reinterpretation of Postwar U.S. Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 53(1), pages 129-156, January.
    4. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Comparison of Interwar and Postwar Business Cycles: Monetarism Reconsidered," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(2), pages 250-257, May.
    5. Sargan, John Denis & Bhargava, Alok, 1983. "Testing Residuals from Least Squares Regression for Being Generated by the Gaussian Random Walk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 153-174, January.
    6. Dickey, David A & Fuller, Wayne A, 1981. "Likelihood Ratio Statistics for Autoregressive Time Series with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 1057-1072, June.
    7. Myerson, Roger B, 1979. "Incentive Compatibility and the Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 61-73, January.
    8. Romer, Christina, 1986. "Spurious Volatility in Historical Unemployment Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 1-37, February.
    9. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 15-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
    11. Greenwald, Bruce & Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1984. "Informational Imperfections in the Capital Market and Macroeconomic Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 194-199, May.
    12. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Nonmonetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in Propagation of the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 257-276, June.
    13. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    14. Smith, Bruce, 1983. "Limited Information, Credit Rationing, and Optimal Government Lending Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 305-318, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Núria Rodríquez-Planas, 2011. "Displacement, Signaling, and Recall Expectations," Working Papers 550, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

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    Labor supply ; Unemployment;


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