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On the Importance of the Participation Margin for Market Fluctuations

Author

Listed:
  • Elsby, Michael

    (University of Edinburgh)

  • Hobijn, Bart

    (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)

  • Sahin, Aysegül

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

Abstract

Conventional analyses of cyclical fluctuations in the labor market ascribe a minor role to the labor force participation margin. In contrast, a flows-based decomposition of the variation in labor market stocks reveals that transitions at the participation margin account for around one-third of the cyclical variation in the unemployment rate. This result is robust to adjustments of data for spurious transitions, and for time aggregation. Inferences from conventional, stocks-based analyses of labor force participation are shown to be subject to a stock-flow fallacy, neglecting the offsetting forces of worker flows that underlie the modest cyclicality of the participation rate. A novel analysis of history dependence in worker flows demonstrates that a large part of the contribution of the participation margin can be traced to cyclical fluctuations in the composition of the unemployed by labor market attachment.

Suggested Citation

  • Elsby, Michael & Hobijn, Bart & Sahin, Aysegül, 2013. "On the Importance of the Participation Margin for Market Fluctuations," Working Paper Series 2013-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfwp:2013-05
    DOI: 10.24148/wp2013-05
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    File URL: http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/papers/2013/wp2013-05.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kory Kroft & Fabian Lange & Matthew J. Notowidigdo & Lawrence F. Katz, 2016. "Long-Term Unemployment and the Great Recession: The Role of Composition, Duration Dependence, and Nonparticipation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(S1), pages 7-54.
    2. Tomer Blumkin & Leif Danziger & Eran Yashiv, 2017. "Optimal unemployment benefit policy and the firm productivity distribution," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 24(1), pages 36-59, February.
    3. Robert E. Hall, 2014. "Quantifying the Lasting Harm to the U.S. Economy from the Financial Crisis," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2014, Volume 29, pages 71-128 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Davig, Troy A. & Mustre-del-Rio, Jose, 2013. "The shadow labor supply and its implications for the unemployment rate," Macro Bulletin, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 1-2, August.
    5. Pawel Krolikowski, 2017. "Job Ladders and Earnings of Displaced Workers," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 1-31, April.
    6. Christopher L. Foote & Richard W. Ryan, 2015. "Labor-Market Polarization over the Business Cycle," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 371-413.
    7. Hess Chung & Bruce C. Fallick & Christopher J. Nekarda & David Ratner, 2014. "Assessing the Change in Labor Market Conditions," FEDS Notes 2014-05-22, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Régis Barnichon & Andrew Figura, 2013. "Declining labor force attachment and downward trends in unemployment and participation," Economics Working Papers 1397, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    9. Krolikowski, Pawel, 2016. "Choosing a Control Group for Displaced Workers," Working Paper 1605, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, revised 17 Aug 2017.
    10. Peter Diamond, 2013. "Cyclical Unemployment, Structural Unemployment," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 61(3), pages 410-455, August.
    11. Regis Barnichon & Andrew Figura, 2016. "Declining Desire to Work and Downward Trends in Unemployment and Participation," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 449-494.
    12. Stephanie Aaronson & Tomaz Cajner & Bruce Fallick & Felix Galbis-Reig & Christopher Smith & William Wascher, 2014. "Labor Force Participation: Recent Developments and Future Prospects," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 45(2 (Fall)), pages 197-275.
    13. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 2014. "Labor Market Fluidity and Economic Performance," NBER Working Papers 20479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. repec:eee:macchp:v2-2131 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Labor market; Unemployment;

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