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Labor effort over the business cycle


  • Domenico J. Marchetti

    () (Banca d'Italia)

  • Francesco Nucci

    () (Universit� di Roma "La Sapienza")


Unobservable labor utilization is recognized as a crucial feature of economic fluctuations. Yet very little is known on the behavior of work effort over the business cycle. By using firm-level panel data drawn from two high-quality sources, we obtain a microeconomic estimate of variable labor effort from a dynamic cost minimization set-up. We argue that, contrary to common assumptions, the relationship between effort and hours is not monotonic. During a recovery, if a critical level of hours per capita is reached (say, because of labor market rigidities), every additional hour is worked with decreasing effort, due to physical fatigue. We provide supporting evidence by estimating the structural parameters of a Taylor approximation of the effort function. Corroborating evidence has been obtained by estimating the elasticity of effort with respect to hours at different business cycle conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Domenico J. Marchetti & Francesco Nucci, 2001. "Labor effort over the business cycle," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 424, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_424_01

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andreas Hornstein, 1999. "Growth accounting with technological revolutions," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 1-22.
    2. Andrea Bassanini & Stefano Scarpetta & Ignazio Visco, 2000. "Knowledge technology and economic growth: recent evidence from OECD countries," Working Paper Research 06, National Bank of Belgium.
    3. Stefano Scarpetta & Andrea Bassanini & Dirk Pilat & Paul Schreyer, 2000. "Economic Growth in the OECD Area: Recent Trends at the Aggregate and Sectoral Level," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 248, OECD Publishing.
    4. Andrea Brandolini & Piero Cipollone & Paolo Sestito, 2001. "Earnings Dispersion, Low Pay and Household Poverty in Italy, 1977-1998," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 427, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    5. Zvi Griliches, 1996. "The Discovery of the Residual: A Historical Note," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1324-1330, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Altissimo, Filippo & Gaiotti, Eugenio & Locarno, Alberto, 2005. "Is money informative? Evidence from a large model used for policy analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 285-304, March.
    2. Marchetti, Domenico J. & Nucci, Francesco, 2005. "Price stickiness and the contractionary effect of technology shocks," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(5), pages 1137-1163, July.
    3. Kolesnikova, Irina, 2010. "State Aid for Industrial Enterprises in Belarus: Remedy or Poison?," MPRA Paper 22403, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Dragone, Davide, 2009. "I am getting tired: Effort and fatigue in intertemporal decision-making," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 552-562, August.

    More about this item


    labor effort; factor hoarding; business cycles;

    JEL classification:

    • D20 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - General
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles


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