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Uniform Working Hours: A Culprit of Structural Unemployment


  • Wen, Yi

    (Cornell U)

  • Zhu, Lijing

    (National U of Singapore)

  • Liu, Haoming

    (National U of Singapore)


In this paper, we construct a simple model based on heterogeneity in workers' productivity and homogeneity in their working schedules. This simple model can generate unemployment, even if wages adjust instantaneously, firms are perfectly competitive and can perfectly observe workers' productivity and effort. Unemployment in our model falls upon low-skilled workers, because firms do not find it optimal to hire low-skilled workers when working time across heterogeneous workers must be synchronized, and low-skilled workers on the other hand do not find it attractive working for hours the same length as of high-skilled workers at competitive wages. Our model can also explain the stylized fact that both the number of employees and the number of hours comove with the business cycle.

Suggested Citation

  • Wen, Yi & Zhu, Lijing & Liu, Haoming, 2001. "Uniform Working Hours: A Culprit of Structural Unemployment," Working Papers 01-20, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:corcae:01-20

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Costa, Dora L, 2000. "The Wage and the Length of the Work Day: From the 1890s to 1991," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 156-181, January.
    2. Audra Bowlus & Haoming Liu & Chris Robinson, 2002. "Business Cycle Models, Aggregation, and Real Wage Cyclicality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 308-335, Part.
    3. Costa, Dora L, 1998. "The Unequal Work Day: A Long-Term View," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 330-334, May.
    4. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 235-290 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Cho, Jang-Ok & Cooley, Thomas F., 1994. "Employment and hours over the business cycle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 411-432, March.
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    JEL classification:

    • E00 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - General
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General


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