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The role of worker flows in the dynamics and distribution of UK unemployment

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  • Michael W. L. Elsby
  • Jennifer C. Smith
  • Jonathan Wadsworth

Abstract

Unemployment varies substantially over time and across sub-groups of the labour market. Worker flows among labour-market states act as key determinants of this variation. We examine how the structure of unemployment across groups and its cyclical movements across time are shaped by changes in labour-market flows. Using novel estimates of flow transition rates for the UK over the last 35 years, we decompose unemployment variation into parts accounted for by changes in rates of job loss, job-finding, and flows via non-participation. Close to two-thirds of the volatility of unemployment in the UK over this period can be traced to rises in rates of job loss that accompany recessions. The share of this inflow contribution has been broadly the same in each of the past three recessions. Decreased job-finding rates account for around one-quarter of unemployment cyclicality and the remaining variation can be attributed to flows via non-participation. Digging deeper into the structure of unemployment by gender, age, and education, the flow approach is shown to provide a richer understanding of the unemployment experiences across population sub-groups. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael W. L. Elsby & Jennifer C. Smith & Jonathan Wadsworth, 2011. "The role of worker flows in the dynamics and distribution of UK unemployment," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 338-363.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:27:y:2011:i:2:p:338-363
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Elsby, Michael W.L. & Hobijn, Bart & Şahin, Ayşegül, 2015. "On the importance of the participation margin for labor market fluctuations," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 64-82.
    2. Daouli, Joan & Demoussis, Michael & Giannakopoulos, Nicholas & Lambropoulou, Nikolitsa, 2015. "The ins and outs of Greek unemployment in the Great Depression," MPRA Paper 66299, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Jean-Olivier Hairault & François Langot & Thepthida Sopraseuth, 2014. "Why is Old Workers’ Labor Market more Volatile? Unemployment Fluctuations over the Life-Cycle," TEPP Working Paper 2014-03, TEPP.
    4. Giovanni Razzu & Carl Singleton, 2014. "Gender and the Business Cycle: A Stocks and Flows Analysis of US and UK Labour Market States," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2014-10, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    5. Carl Singleton, 2016. "Long-term unemployment and the Great Recession: Evidence from UK stocks and flows," ESE Discussion Papers 273, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    6. Cappellari, Lorenzo & Jenkins, Stephen P., 2014. "Earnings and labour market volatility in Britain, with a transatlantic comparison," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 201-211.
    7. Jennifer C. Smith, 2011. "The Ins and Outs of UK Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(552), pages 402-444, May.
    8. Joan Daouli & Michael Demoussis & Nicholas Giannakopoulos & Nikolitsa Lampropoulou, 2015. "The Ins and Outs of Unemployment in the Current Greek Economic Crisis," South-Eastern Europe Journal of Economics, Association of Economic Universities of South and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea Region, vol. 13(2), pages 177-196.
    9. Razzu, Giovanni & Singleton, Carl, 2016. "Gender and the business cycle: An analysis of labour markets in the US and UK," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 47(PB), pages 131-146.
    10. Ieva Brauksa & Ludmila Fadejeva, 2013. "Internal Labour Market Mobility in 2005-2011: The Case of Latvia," Working Papers 2013/02, Latvijas Banka.
    11. Pizzinelli, Carlo & Speigner, Bradley, 2017. "Matching efficiency and labour market heterogeneity in the United Kingdom," Bank of England working papers 667, Bank of England.
    12. Sepahsalari, Alireza, 2016. "Financial market imperfections and labour market outcomes," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86224, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    13. Anna Baranowska-Rataj & Iga Magda, 2013. "Decomposition of trends in youth unemployment – the role of job accessions and separations in countries with different employment protection regimes," Working Papers 53, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
    14. Nordmeier, Daniela, 2012. "Worker flows in Germany: Inspecting the time aggregation bias," IAB Discussion Paper 201212, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].
    15. Nordmeier, Daniela, 2014. "Worker flows in Germany: Inspecting the time aggregation bias," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 70-83.
    16. Marianna Kudlyak & Felipe Schwartzman, 2012. "Accounting for unemployment in the Great Recession : nonparticipation matters," Working Paper 12-04, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    17. Zuzanna Brzozowska, 2013. "Was falling fertility in the communist Poland driven by changes in women’s education?," Working Papers 54, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw School of Economics.
    18. Michael W. L. Elsby & Ryan Michaels & David Ratner, 2015. "The Beveridge Curve: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(3), pages 571-630, September.
    19. Jed Armstrong & Özer Karagedikli, 2017. "The role of non-participants in labour market dynamics," Reserve Bank of New Zealand Analytical Notes series AN2017/01, Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
    20. Vanhala, Juuso & Bonthuis, Boele & Jarvis, Valerie, 2013. "What’s going on behind the euro area Beveridge curve(s)?," Working Paper Series 1586, European Central Bank.
    21. Pedro Gomes, 2015. "The importance of frequency in estimating labour market transition rates," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-10, December.
    22. Elsby, Michael & Hobijn, Bart & Sahin, Aysegül, 2013. "On the Importance of the Participation Margin for Market Fluctuations," Working Paper Series 2013-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    23. Ludmila Fadejeva & Ieva Opmane, 2016. "Internal labour market mobility in 2005–2014 in Latvia: the micro data approach," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 16(2), pages 152-174.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

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