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Search Effort in the Labor Market


  • John M. Barron
  • Wesley Mellow


This paper develops a theory of the unemployed individual's choice of how much effort to devote to search. The term effort involves two choice variables, time and money. Specific attention is given to the role of unemployment contingent income and the probability of obtaining employment without search. The theory is tested using data from a supplement to the May 1976 Current Population Survey. The empirical findings suggest search theory is important in explaining the behavior of the unemployed: unemployment insurance benefits decrease search time per period, and search time is lower for individuals on layoff-a group that has a positive probability of employment without search effort.

Suggested Citation

  • John M. Barron & Wesley Mellow, 1979. "Search Effort in the Labor Market," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(3), pages 389-404.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:14:y:1979:i:3:p:389-404

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nancy D. Ruggles & Richard Ruggles, 1977. "The Anatomy of Earnings Behavior," NBER Chapters,in: The Distribution of Economic Well-Being, pages 115-162 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Binswanger, Hans P., 1973. "A Cost Function Approach To The Measurement Of Factor Demand Elasticities And Elasticities Of Substitution," Staff Papers 13478, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    3. Johnson, William R, 1980. "Vintage Effects in the Earnings of White American Men," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(3), pages 399-407, August.
    4. Clark, Kim B & Freeman, Richard B, 1980. "How Elastic is the Demand for Labor?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(4), pages 509-520, November.
    5. Griliches, Zvi, 1969. "Capital-Skill Complementarity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 51(4), pages 465-468, November.
    6. Hicks, John, 1970. "Elasticity of Substitution Again: Substitutes and Complements," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(3), pages 289-296, November.
    7. Hans P. Binswanger, 1974. "A Cost Function Approach to the Measurement of Elasticities of Factor Demand and Elasticities of Substitution," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 56(2), pages 377-386.
    8. Sato, Ryuzo & Koizumi, Tetsunori, 1973. "On the Elasticities of Substitution and Complementarity," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 44-56, March.
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