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Unemployment Through the Filter of Memory

Author

Listed:
  • George A. Akerlof
  • Janet L. Yellen

Abstract

This paper uses data from the annual Work Experience Survey to construct a new unemployment series based on respondents' recollection of unemployment over the previous year. It is argued that the ratio of this new series to the official series computed from the monthly Current Population Survey provides an index of the "salience" or painfulness of unemployment. Over the past two decades this ratio has declined secularly. About 30 percent of this decrease is due to shifts in the composition of unemployment toward demographic groups with low ratios of remembered to currently reported unemployment. The remainder is due to a secular decline in salience for younger and older people.

Suggested Citation

  • George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1985. "Unemployment Through the Filter of Memory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(3), pages 747-773.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:100:y:1985:i:3:p:747-773.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.2307/1884377
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