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The Long-Run Demand for Labor: Estimates From Census Establishment Data

  • Timothy Dunne
  • Mark J Roberts

This paper estimates long-run demand functions for production workers, production worker hours, and nonproduction workers using micro data from U.S. establishment surveys. The paper focuses on estimation of the wage and output elasticities of labor demand using data on over 41,000 U.S. manufacturing plants in 1975 and more than 30,000 plants in 1981. Particular attention is focused on the problems of unobserved producer heterogeneity and measurement errors in output that can affect labor demand estimates based on establishment survey data. The empirical results reveal that OLS estimates of both the own-price elasticity and the output elasticity of labor demand are biased downward as a result of unobserved heterogeneity. Differencing the data as a solution to this problem greatly exaggerates measurement error in the output coefficients. The use of capital stocks as instrumental variables to correct for measurement error in output significantly alters output elasticities in the expected direction but has no systematic effect on own-price elasticities. All of these patterns are found in estimates that pool establishment data across industries and in industry-specific regressions for the vast majority of industries. Estimates of the output elasticity of labor demand indicate that there are slight increasing returns for production workers and production hours, with a pooled data estimate of .92. The estimate for nonproduction workers in .98. The variation in the output elasticities across industries is fairly small. Estimates of the own-price elasticity vary more substantially with the year, type of differencing used, and industry. They average -.50 for production hours, -.41 for production workers, and -.44 for nonproduction workers. The price elasticities vary widely across manufacturing industries: the interquartile range for the industry estimates is approximately .40.

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File URL: ftp://ftp2.census.gov/ces/wp/1993/CES-WP-93-13.pdf
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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 93-13.

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Date of creation: Sep 1993
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Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:93-13
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  1. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1981. "New Measures of Labor Cost: Implications for Demand Elasticities and Nominal Wage Growth," NBER Working Papers 0821, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Griliches, Zvi & Hausman, Jerry A., 1986. "Errors in variables in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 93-118, February.
  3. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1981. "Productivity and R and D at the Firm Level," NBER Working Papers 0826, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Sosin, Kim H & Fairchild, Loretta G, 1984. "Nonhomotheticity and Technological Bias in Production," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 66(1), pages 44-50, February.
  5. Steven J. Davis & John C. Haltiwanger & Scott Schuh, 1998. "Job Creation and Destruction," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262540932, June.
  6. Olley, G Steven & Pakes, Ariel, 1996. "The Dynamics of Productivity in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1263-97, November.
  7. Steve J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1991. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction and Employment Reallocation," NBER Working Papers 3728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Sang V Nguyen & Edward C Kokkelenberg, 1988. "Modelling Technical Progress And Total Factor Productivity: A Plant Level Example," Working Papers 88-4, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  9. Brown, Charles & Medoff, James, 1989. "The Employer Size-Wage Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1027-59, October.
  10. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1990. "Gross Job Creation and Destruction: Microeconomic Evidence and Macroeconomic Implications," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1990, Volume 5, pages 123-186 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Zvi Griliches & Jacques Mairesse, 1984. "Productivity and R&D at the Firm Level," NBER Chapters, in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 339-374 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Blanchflower, David G & Millward, Neil & Oswald, Andrew J, 1991. "Unionism and Employment Behaviour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 815-34, July.
  13. Dunne, T. & Roberts, M.J. & Samuelson L., 1988. "Plant Turnover And Gross Employment Flows In The U.S. Manufacturing Sector," Papers 9-87-7, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  14. Griliches, Zvi, 1986. "Economic data issues," Handbook of Econometrics, in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 25, pages 1465-1514 Elsevier.
  15. Dunne, Timothy & Roberts, Mark J, 1991. "The Duration of Employment Opportunities in U.S. Manufacturing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(2), pages 216-27, May.
  16. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
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