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Persistence effects in labor force participation

  • Robert S. Gay
  • William L. Wascher

This paper examines empirically two facets of labor force participation dynamics that imply quite different interpretations of labor market fluctuations. The first, which underlies equilibrium business cycle models, is that workers time their participation to coincide with periods of high real wages. The second, which implies the existence of involuntary unemployment during cyclical downturns, is that workers' current labor force status is heavily influenced by their work experience in the recent past. The authors' results suggest that these persistence effects are a key feature of labor force behavior, particularly for teenagers, adult women, and older men. In contrast, very little evidence could be found to support the intertemporal substitution hypothesis.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section with number 44.

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Date of creation: 1985
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgwe:44
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  1. Haveman, Robert H & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1984. "The Decline in Male Labor Force Participation: Comment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 532-41, June.
  2. Mincer, Jacob & Polachek, Solomon, 1974. "Family Investment in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S76-S108, Part II, .
  3. Jonathan S. Leonard, 1979. "The Social Security Disability Program and Labor Force Participation," NBER Working Papers 0392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James J. Heckman & Robert J. Willis, 1975. "A Beta-Logistic Model for the Analysis of Sequential Labor Force Participation by Married Women," NBER Working Papers 0112, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Parsons, Donald O, 1980. "The Decline in Male Labor Force Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 117-34, February.
  6. Lucas, Robert E, Jr & Rapping, Leonard A, 1969. "Real Wages, Employment, and Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 77(5), pages 721-54, Sept./Oct.
  7. Gilbert Ghez & Gary S. Becker, 1975. "The Allocation of Time and Goods over the Life Cycle," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number ghez75-1, December.
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