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The Cost of Labor Adjustment: Inferences from the Gap


  • Russell Cooper

    (University of Texas)

  • Jonathan Willis

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City)


This paper studies the aggregate implications of micro-level labor adjustment costs. Caballero and Engel (1993) find a dependence of aggregate employment growth on the cross sectional distribution of "employment gaps." This paper uses those results as moments in an indirect inference procedure to infer the underlying labor adjustment costs. We specify a dynamic optimization problem at the plant level, allowing for both convex and non-convex adjustment costs. Consistent with evidence at the micro level, our findings indicate that non-convex adjustment costs are necessary to match these aggregate moments. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • Russell Cooper & Jonathan Willis, 2009. "The Cost of Labor Adjustment: Inferences from the Gap," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(4), pages 632-647, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:06-149
    DOI: 10.1016/

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cooper, Russell & Haltiwanger, John & Willis, Jonathan L., 2015. "Dynamics of labor demand: Evidence from plant-level observations and aggregate implications," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 37-50.
    2. Russell W. Cooper & Jonathan L. Willis, 2001. "The economics of labor adjustment : mind the gap," Research Working Paper RWP 01-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    3. Rust, John, 1987. "Optimal Replacement of GMC Bus Engines: An Empirical Model of Harold Zurcher," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 999-1033, September.
    4. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1989. "Labor Demand and the Structure of Adjustment Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 674-689, September.
    5. Jerome Adda & Russell Cooper, 2000. "Balladurette and Juppette: A Discrete Analysis of Scrapping Subsidies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 778-806, August.
    6. Ricardo J. Caballero & Eduardo M. R. A. Engel, 1993. "Microeconomic Adjustment Hazards and Aggregate Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 359-383.
    7. Gerard A. Pfann & Franz C. Palm, 1993. "Asymmetric Adjustment Costs in Non-linear Labour Demand Models for the Netherlands and U.K. Manufacturing Sectors," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(2), pages 397-412.
    8. Contreras, Juan, 2006. "An Empirical Model of Factor Adjustment Dynamics," MPRA Paper 9797, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Caballero, Ricardo J & Engel, Eduardo M R A & Haltiwanger, John, 1997. "Aggregate Employment Dynamics: Building from Microeconomic Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 115-137, March.
    10. John Haltiwanger & Russell Cooper & Laura Power, 1999. "Machine Replacement and the Business Cycle: Lumps and Bumps," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 921-946, September.
    11. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Gerard A. Pfann, 1996. "Adjustment Costs in Factor Demand," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1264-1292, September.
    12. Sargent, Thomas J, 1978. "Estimation of Dynamic Labor Demand Schedules under Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 1009-1044, December.
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    More about this item


    Aggregate employment; Employment; Adjustment costs;

    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
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers


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