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Measures of per Capita Hours and Their Implications for the Technology-Hours Debate

  • NEVILLE FRANCIS
  • VALERIE A. RAMEY

Structural vector autoregressions give conflicting results on the effects of technology shocks on hours. The results depend crucially on the assumed data generating process for hours per capita. We show that the standard measure of hours per capita and productivity have significant low-frequency movements that are the source of the conflicting results. Hodrick-Prescott (HP)-filtered hours per capita produce results consistent with those obtained when hours are assumed to have a unit root. We show that important sources of the low-frequency movements in the standard measure are sectoral shifts in hours and the changing age composition of the working-age population. When we control for these low-frequency components to determine the effect of technology shocks on hours using long-run restrictions we get one consistent answer: hours decline in the short run in response to a positive technology shock. We further extend the analysis by examining the effects of demographic controls on the impulse responses to investment-specific technology shocks. Our results are less conclusive. Copyright (c) 2009 The Ohio State University.

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Article provided by Blackwell Publishing in its journal Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.

Volume (Year): 41 (2009)
Issue (Month): 6 (09)
Pages: 1071-1097

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Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:41:y:2009:i:6:p:1071-1097
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  1. Valerie A. Ramey & Neville Francis, 2006. "A Century of Work and Leisure," NBER Working Papers 12264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. V. V. Chari & Patrick J. Kehoe & Ellen R. McGrattan, 2005. "A critique of structural VARs using real business cycle theory," Working Papers 631, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  3. Christopher Erceg & Luca Guerrieri & Christopher Gust, 2004. "Can long-run restrictions identify technology shocks?," International Finance Discussion Papers 792, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Galí, Jordi, 1996. "Technology, Employment, and the Business Cycle: Do Technology Shocks Explain Aggregate Fluctuations?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1499, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Robert Vigfusson, 2003. "What happens after a technology shock?," International Finance Discussion Papers 768, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  6. Edward C. Prescott, 2004. "Why Do Americans Work So Much More Than Europeans?," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000413, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Jordi Gali & Pau Rabanal, 2004. "Technology Shocks and Aggregate Fluctuations: How Well Does the RBS Model Fit Postwar U.S. Data?," NBER Working Papers 10636, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Cooley, Thomas F. & Dwyer, Mark, 1998. "Business cycle analysis without much theory A look at structural VARs," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1-2), pages 57-88.
  9. Kent D. Wall, 1976. "Interequation Constraint and the Specification of Dynamic Structure," NBER Working Papers 0119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Neville Francis & Michael T. Owyang & Jennifer E. Roush, 2005. "A flexible finite-horizon identification of technology shocks," International Finance Discussion Papers 832, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Neville Francis & Michael T. Owyang & Jennifer E. Roush & Riccardo DiCecio, 2014. "A Flexible Finite-Horizon Alternative to Long-Run Restrictions with an Application to Technology Shocks," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 638-647, October.
  12. King, R.G. & Baxter, M., 1990. "Fiscal Policy In General Equilibrium," RCER Working Papers 244, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  13. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum, 1994. "Factor Hoarding and the Propagation of Business Cycles Shocks," NBER Working Papers 4675, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. John Fernald, 2004. "Trend Breaks, Long Run Restrictions, and the Contractionary Effects of Technology Shocks," 2004 Meeting Papers 477, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  15. Neville Francis & Valerie A. Ramey, 2002. "Is the Technology-Driven Real Business Cycle Hypothesis Dead?," NBER Working Papers 8726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Robert G. King & Charles I. Plosser & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1987. "Stochastic Trends and Economic Fluctuations," NBER Working Papers 2229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Matthew D. Shapiro & Mark W. Watson, 1988. "Sources of Business Cycle Fluctuations," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 870, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  18. Galí, Jordi & Rabanal, Pau, 2004. "Technology Shocks and Aggregate Fluctuations: How Well Does the RBC Model Fit Post-War US Data?," CEPR Discussion Papers 4522, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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