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Growth and Unemployment


  • Aghion, Philippe
  • Howitt, Peter


This paper examines the long-run effects of growth on unemployment. It assumes that growth arises explicitly from the introduction of new technologies, which require labour re-allocation for their implementation. Using a variant of the search theory developed by Pissarides, the paper shows how unemployment is affected by growth both directly, through the job-destruction rate, and indirectly through its effects on the incentive for firms to create job openings. Our results can be summarized as follows: first, the sign of the overall effect of growth on unemployment depends upon its source (more growth can result from an increase in either the size or the frequency of innovations, from human capital accumulation through learning-by-doing etc.); second, the size and sign of the overall effect of growth on unemployment depends upon the degree of complementarity in demand across consumption, at different points in time and across sectors at a given point in time. Finally, endogenizing the growth process (through, for example, endogenizing the research activities that determine the size and frequency of innovations or through introducing learning by doing with positive external effects across sectors) introduces new interactions between growth and unemployment. It also creates the possibility of multiple equilibria and gives rise to a role for government intervention.

Suggested Citation

  • Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1991. "Growth and Unemployment," CEPR Discussion Papers 577, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:577

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Grandmont, Jean-Michel, 1978. "Intermediate Preferences and the Majority Rule," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(2), pages 317-330, March.
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    6. Greenwood, Jeremy & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1990. "Financial Development, Growth, and the Distribution of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 1076-1107, October.
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    8. Terrones, M., 1990. "Influence Activities And Economic Growth," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9006, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
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    13. Lindert, Peter H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1985. "Growth, equality, and history," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 341-377, October.
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    18. Romer, Thomas, 1975. "Individual welfare, majority voting, and the properties of a linear income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 163-185, February.
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    More about this item


    Capitalization; Complementarities; Creative Destruction; Frequency; Innovations; Vacancies;

    JEL classification:

    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes


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