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Unemployment and Full Employment. A Retrospective View


  • Maurizio Zenezini

    () (Dipartimento di Scienze economiche, aziendali, matematiche e statistiche - Universita' di Trieste)


This paper shows that Pigou’s theory of unemployment, contrary to what Keynes thought, does not assume states of full employment only, but offers an analysis of situations of persistent underemployment which are not necessarily associated with labour market supply factors. Indeed, Pigou’s «classical theory» assigns a significant role to aggregate demand in the determination of mass unemployment, although Pigou was very cautious as regards the feasibility of demand policies as a means for achieving full employment. The modern theory of the natural rate of unemployment, as empirically developed in the context of the NAIRU approach, claims to provide an explanation of equilibrium unemployment based on labour market supply factors. After showing the weak operational content of the modern NAIRU approach, this paper emphasises the theoretical distance between models developed within this approach and Pigou’s «classical theory» of unemployment

Suggested Citation

  • Maurizio Zenezini, 2010. "Unemployment and Full Employment. A Retrospective View," Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali, Vita e Pensiero, Pubblicazioni dell'Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, vol. 118(2), pages 225-262.
  • Handle: RePEc:vep:journl:y:2010:v:118:i:2:p:225-262

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Campiglio, Luigi Pierfranco, 2013. "Famiglia e pressione fiscale
      [Households and tax burden in Italy: 1991-2012]
      ," MPRA Paper 50592, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Unemployment; Keynesian theory; Pigou; NAIRU;

    JEL classification:

    • B30 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - General
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General


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