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Does One Law Fit All? Cross-Country Evidence on Okun’s Law


  • Laurence Ball

    (Johns Hopkins University)

  • Davide Furceri

    (University of Palermo

  • Daniel Leigh


  • Prakash Loungani

    Policy Center for the New South)


This paper compares the performance of Okun’s Law in advanced and developing economies. On average, the Okun coefficient—which measures the short-run responsiveness of labor markets to output fluctuations—is about half as large in developing as in advanced countries. However, there is considerably heterogeneity across countries, with Okun’s Law fitting quite well for a number of developing countries. We have limited success in explaining the reasons for this heterogeneity. The mean unemployment rate and the share of services in GDP are associated with the Okun coefficient, whereas other factors such as indices of overall labor and product market flexibility do not appear to play a consistent role.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurence Ball & Davide Furceri & Daniel Leigh & Prakash Loungani, 2019. "Does One Law Fit All? Cross-Country Evidence on Okun’s Law," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 30(5), pages 841-874, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:openec:v:30:y:2019:i:5:d:10.1007_s11079-019-09549-3
    DOI: 10.1007/s11079-019-09549-3

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Mai Dao & Prakash Loungani, 2010. "The Human Cost of Recessions; Assessing It, Reducing It," IMF Staff Position Notes 2010/17, International Monetary Fund.
    7. Steven Kapsos, 2006. "The Employment Intensity of Growth: Trends and Macroeconomic Determinants," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Jesus Felipe & Rana Hasan (ed.), Labor Markets in Asia, chapter 0, pages 143-201, Palgrave Macmillan.
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    Cited by:

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    3. Kose, M. Ayhan & Guénette, Justin Damien & Sugawara, Naotaka, 2022. "Is a Global Recession Imminent?," CEPR Discussion Papers 17566, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Hawkins, Raymond J. & Li, Yichu, 2021. "Okun loops and anelastic relaxation in the G7," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 576(C).
    5. Porras-Arena, M. Sylvina & Martín-Román, Ángel L., 2023. "The heterogeneity of Okun's law: A metaregression analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    6. Md. Noman Siddikee & Jawadur Rahim Zahid & Athya Sanjida & Polina Oshchepkova, 2022. "Sustainable economic growth and unemployment nexus of SDG 2030: Bangladesh in Asia," SN Business & Economics, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 1-20, January.
    7. Asma Raies, 2023. "Sustainable Employment in Developing and Emerging Countries: Testing Augmented Okun’s Law in Light of Institutional Quality," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 15(4), pages 1-13, February.
    8. Tamás Kiss & Hoang Nguyen & Pär Österholm, 2023. "Modelling Okun’s law: Does non-Gaussianity matter?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 64(5), pages 2183-2213, May.
    9. Porras-Arena, M. Sylvina & Martín-Román, Ángel L. & Dueñas Fernández , Diego & Llorente Heras, Raquel, 2024. "Okun’s Law: The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the temporary layoffs procedures (ERTEs) on Spanish regions," INVESTIGACIONES REGIONALES - Journal of REGIONAL RESEARCH, Asociación Española de Ciencia Regional, issue 59, pages 105-125.
    10. M. Sylvina Porras-Arena & Mauricio A. Suárez Cal, 2021. "What’s behind Okun’s law? A multiple equation approach to the Uruguayan labour market," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 21-30, Instituto de Economía - IECON.
    11. Zidong An & Tayeb Ghazi & Nathalie Gonzalez Prieto & Aomar Ibourk, 2019. "Growth and Jobs in Developing Economies: Trends and Cycles," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 30(5), pages 875-893, November.
    12. Davide Furceri & João Tovar Jalles & Prakash Loungani, 2020. "On the Determinants of the Okun’s Law: New Evidence from Time-Varying Estimates," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 62(4), pages 661-700, December.
    13. Jan Russnak & Georg Stadtmann & Lilli Zimmermann, 2023. "Does Okun's law suffer from COVID-19?Evidence from Europe and the US," Economics and Business Letters, Oviedo University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 165-171.
    14. Mahmoud Kraim & Tamat Sarmidi & Fathin Faizah & Norlin Khalid, 2023. "A sectoral specification of Okun’s law in oil-producing countries: evidence from panel ARDL model," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 56(4), pages 2385-2404, August.
    15. Russnak, Jan & Stadtmann, Georg & Zimmermann, Lilli, 2023. "Does Okun's law suffer from COVID-19? Evidence from Europe and the US - A research note," Discussion Papers 428, European University Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Department of Business Administration and Economics.
    16. Karlsson, Sune & Österholm, Pär, 2020. "A hybrid time-varying parameter Bayesian VAR analysis of Okun’s law in the United States," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 197(C).
    17. Mindaugas Butkus & Kristina Matuzeviciute & Dovile Rupliene & Janina Seputiene, 2020. "Does Unemployment Responsiveness to Output Change Depend on Age, Gender, Education, and the Phase of the Business Cycle?," Economies, MDPI, vol. 8(4), pages 1-29, November.
    18. Mina Baliamoune, 2022. "Trade and Youth Labor Market Outcomes: Empirical Evidence and Policy Implications," Research papers & Policy papers 1945, Policy Center for the New South.
    19. Martin Boďa & Mariana Považanová, 2023. "How credible are Okun coefficients? The gap version of Okun’s law for G7 economies," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 56(3), pages 1467-1514, June.

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