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Can Productivity Growth Explain NAIRU? Long-run Evidence from Britain, 1871-1999

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  • Hatton, Timothy J.

Abstract

The ‘new economy’ of the 1990s saw improving Phillips curve trade-offs coupled with faster productivity growth, particularly in the United States. This has led to a revival of the idea that there is an inverse relationship between productivity growth and the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU). Because productivity trends evolve slowly, such effects have been difficult to identify using short runs of data. This paper investigates this relationship over a much longer period than usual. It draws on recently developed, historically-consistent, time series for the UK from 1871 to 1999. A two-equation model of unemployment and wage setting, that incorporates productivity effects, is estimated over the whole period allowing for shifts across major periods associated with changes in labour market institutions. The results indicate that trends in labour productivity do matter, but they go only part of the way towards explaining wide swings in average unemployment across the decades. Thus productivity is not the whole story, but it is some of the story. In addition, institutional changes appear to have enhanced the effects of productivity on the NAIRU, particularly in the post-Second World War era.

Suggested Citation

  • Hatton, Timothy J., 2002. "Can Productivity Growth Explain NAIRU? Long-run Evidence from Britain, 1871-1999," CEPR Discussion Papers 3424, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3424
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Marika Karanassou & Hector Sala, 2012. "Productivity Growth And The Phillips Curve: A Reassessment Of The Us Experience," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(3), pages 344-366, July.
    2. Timothy J. Hatton & Mark Thomas, 2012. "Labour Markets in Recession and Recovery: The UK and the USA in the 1920s and 1930s," CEH Discussion Papers 001, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    3. Sambit Bhattacharyya & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2011. "Commodity Price Shocks And The Australian Economy Since Federation," Australian Economic History Review, Economic History Society of Australia and New Zealand, vol. 51(2), pages 150-177, July.
    4. Marika Karanassou & Hector Sala, 2012. "Inequality and Employment Sensitivities to the Falling Labour Share," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 43(3), pages 343-376.
    5. Timothy J. Hatton & Mark Thomas, 2010. "Labour markets in the interwar period and economic recovery in the UK and the USA," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 463-485, Autumn.
    6. George Chouliarakis & Mónica Correa-López, 2014. "A fair wage model of unemployment with inertia in fairness perceptions," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 88-114, January.
    7. Karanassou, Marika & Sala, Hector, 2010. "The Wage-Productivity Gap Revisited: Is the Labour Share Neutral to Employment?," IZA Discussion Papers 5092, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Gylfi Zoega, 2009. "Employment and Asset Prices," Birkbeck Working Papers in Economics and Finance 0917, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics.
    9. Dario JUDZIK & Hector SALA, 2013. "Productivity, deunionization and trade: Wage effects and labour share implications," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 152(2), pages 205-236, June.
    10. Ambrocio, Gene & Jang, Tae-Seok, 2009. "Productivity shocks and the New Keynesian Phillips Curve: Evidence from US and Euro area," Kiel Advanced Studies Working Papers 453, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    11. Antonio Ribba, 2016. "Productivity Growth Shocks and Unemployment in the Postwar US Economy," Department of Economics 0077, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".

    More about this item

    Keywords

    productivity growth; unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

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