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Technology-Hours Redux: Tax Changes and the Measurement of Technology Shocks

In: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2010

  • Karel Mertens
  • Morten O. Ravn

A number of empirical studies find that permanent technological improvements give rise to a temporary drop in hours worked. This finding seriously questions the technology-driven business cycle hypothesis. In this paper we argue that it is important to control for permanent changes in taxes, which invalidate the standard long run identifying assumptions for technology shocks and induce low frequency fluctuations in hours worked. Using the narrative data of Romer and Romer (2010), we find that tax shocks have significant long run effects on aggregate hours, output and labor productivity. We also find that, after controlling for tax shocks, permanent shocks to labor productivity generate short run increases in hours worked and are an important source of fluctuations in US output.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Richard Clarida & Francesco Giavazzi, 2011. "NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2010," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clar10-1, August.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 12195.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:12195
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Eric M. Leeper & Todd B. Walker & Shu-Chun Susan Yang, 2008. "Fiscal Foresight: Analytics and Econometrics," Caepr Working Papers 2008-013, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
    2. Neville Francis & Valerie A. Ramey, 2002. "Is the Technology-Driven Real Business Cycle Hypothesis Dead?," NBER Working Papers 8726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Saikkonen, Pentti & L tkepohl, Helmut, 2000. "Testing For The Cointegrating Rank Of A Var Process With An Intercept," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(03), pages 373-406, June.
    4. Susanto Basu & John Fernald & Miles Kimball, 2004. "Are technology improvements contractionary?," Working Paper Series WP-04-20, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    5. Yongsung Chang & Joao F. Gomes & Frank Schorfheide, 2002. "Learning-by-Doing as a Propagation Mechanism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1498-1520, December.
    6. Favero, Carlo A. & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2010. "Reconciling VAR-based and Narrative Measures of the Tax-Multiplier," CEPR Discussion Papers 7769, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Karel Mertens & Morten O. Ravn, 2009. "Empirical evidence on the aggregate effects of anticipated and unanticipated US tax policy shocks," Working Paper Research 181, National Bank of Belgium.
    8. Neville Francis & Valerie A. Ramey, 2006. "The Source of Historical Economic Fluctuations: An Analysis Using Long-Run Restrictions," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2004, pages 17-73 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Mertens, Karel & Ravn, Morten O, 2009. "Measuring the Impact of Fiscal Policy in the Face of Anticipation: A Structural VAR Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 7423, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Jonas D. M. Fisher, 2006. "The Dynamic Effects of Neutral and Investment-Specific Technology Shocks," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(3), pages 413-451, June.
    11. Chen, Kaiji & Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin, 2009. "A quantitative assessment of the decline in the U.S. current account," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1135-1147, November.
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