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Persistence effects in labor force participation

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  • Robert S. Gay
  • William L. Wascher

Abstract

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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Suggested Citation

  • Robert S. Gay & William L. Wascher, 1985. "Persistence effects in labor force participation," Working Paper Series / Economic Activity Section 44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgwe:44
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Parsons, Donald O, 1980. "The Decline in Male Labor Force Participation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 117-134, February.
    2. Heckman, James J & Willis, Robert J, 1977. "A Beta-logistic Model for the Analysis of Sequential Labor Force Participation by Married Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 27-58, February.
    3. 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 76-108, Part II, .
    4. 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.
    5. 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 532-541, June.
    6. Jonathan S. Leonard, 1979. "The Social Security Disability Program and Labor Force Participation," NBER Working Papers 0392, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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 721-754, Sept./Oct.
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    Cited by:

    1. Julie L. Hotchkiss & John C. Robertson, 2006. "Asymmetric labor force participation decisions over the business cycle: evidence from U.S. microdata," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2006-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

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