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The Duration-Based Measurement of Unemployment. Estimation Issues and an Application to Male-Female Unemployment Differences in France


  • Stephen Bazen

    () (Aix-Marseille Université, AMSE, Greqam)

  • Xavier Joutard

    () (Aix-Marseille Université, AMSE, Greqam)

  • Mouhamadou M. Niang

    () (Aix-Marseille Université, AMSE, Greqam)


This paper examines how unemployment can be measured in normative fashion - taking into account the mean and inequality of spell lengths - and how the extent of unemployment can be estimated from cross section data of the type found in labour force surveys. The issue is not straightforward since in these surveys completed durations of unemployed individuals are not observed yet they constitute the basis for calculating the kind of index that has been proposed to measure the extent of unemployment in a way that goes beyond the unemployment rate. The index proposed by Shorrocks has robust normative foundations and has an equivalent representation in terms of average complete duration and the density of completed durations. Building upon earlier work applied in the United States for estimating the first of these, we present a method that enables the index to be calculated based on an estimate of the density of completed durations. The approach is illustrated in the context of comparing male-female unemployment differences in France, where historically female unemployment has been higher than that of males.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Bazen & Xavier Joutard & Mouhamadou M. Niang, 2012. "The Duration-Based Measurement of Unemployment. Estimation Issues and an Application to Male-Female Unemployment Differences in France," AMSE Working Papers 1206, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France.
  • Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1206

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Guell, Maia & Hu, Luojia, 2006. "Estimating the probability of leaving unemployment using uncompleted spells from repeated cross-section data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 307-341, July.
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    3. Ghazala Azmat & Maia Güell & Alan Manning, 2006. "Gender Gaps in Unemployment Rates in OECD Countries," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 1-38, January.
    4. Disney, Richard, 1979. "Recurrent Spells and the Concentration of Unemployment in Great Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(353), pages 109-119, March.
    5. Vani K . Borooah, 2002. "A Duration‐sensitive Measure of the Unemployment Rate: Theory and Application," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 16(3), pages 453-468, September.
    6. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
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    11. Stephen W. Salant, 1977. "Search Theory and Duration Data: A Theory of Sorts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-57.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mouhamadou Niang, 2014. "Gender gaps in recurrence and concentration of unemployment: Evidence from youth leaving France’s education system," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-25, December.

    More about this item


    unemployment measurement; completed duration; synthetic cohort; gender gap.;

    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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