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Some observations on the Great Depression

  • Edward C. Prescott

The Great Depression in the United States was largely the result of changes in economic institutions that lowered the normal or steady-state market hours per person over 16. The difference in steady-state hours in 1929 and 1939 is over 20 percent. This is a large number, but differences of this size currently exist across the rich industrial countries. The somewhat depressed Japanese economy of the 1990s could very well be the result of workweek length constraints that were adopted in the early 1990s. These constraints lowered steady-state market hours. The failure of the Japanese people to display concern with the performance of their economy suggests that this reduction is what the Japanese people wanted. This is in sharp contrast with the United States in the 1930s when the American people wanted to work more.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its journal Quarterly Review.

Volume (Year): (1999)
Issue (Month): Win ()
Pages: 25-29

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1999:i:win:p:25-29:n:v.23no.1
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  1. R. Anton Braun & Ellen R. McGrattan, 1993. "The Macroeconomics of War and Peace," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1993, Volume 8, pages 197-258 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Edward C. Prescott, 1986. "Theory ahead of business cycle measurement," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 9-22.
  3. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1972. "Unemployment in the Great Depression: Is There a Full Explanation?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(1), pages 186-91, Jan.-Feb..
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