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Current real business cycle theories and aggregate labor market fluctuations

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  • Lawrence J. Christiano
  • Martin Eichenbaum

Abstract

In the 1930s, Dunlop and Tarshis observed that the correlation between hours worked and the return to working is close to zero. This observation has become a litmus test by which macroeconomic models are judged. Existing real business cycle models fail this test dramatically. Based on this result, we argue that technology shocks cannot be the sole impulse driving post-war U.S. business cycles. We modify prototypical real business cycle models by allowing government consumption shocks to influence labor market dynamics in a way suggested by Aschauer (1985), Baro (1981, 1987), and Kormendi (1983). This modification can, in principle, bring the models into closer conformity with the data. Our results indicate that when aggregate demand shocks arising from stochastic movements in government consumption are incorporated into the analysis, and an empirically plausible degree of measurement error is allowed for, the model’s empirical performance is substantially improved.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "Current real business cycle theories and aggregate labor market fluctuations," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 24, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmem:24
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hansen, Gary D., 1985. "Indivisible labor and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-327, November.
    2. Ashenfelter, Orley, 1984. "Macroeconomic analyses and microeconomic analyses of labor supply," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 117-156, January.
    3. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Does public capital crowd out private capital?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-188, September.
    4. Robert J. Barro & Robert G. King, 1984. "Time-Separable Preferences and Intertemporal-Substitution Models of Business Cycles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 817-839.
    5. Finn Kydland & Edward C. Prescott, 1980. "A Competitive Theory of Fluctuations and the Feasibility and Desirability of Stabilization Policy," NBER Chapters,in: Rational Expectations and Economic Policy, pages 169-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Barro, Robert J, 1981. "Output Effects of Government Purchases," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1086-1121, December.
    7. Bencivenga, Valerie R, 1992. "An Econometric Study of Hours and Output Variation with Preference Shocks," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(2), pages 449-471, May.
    8. 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, January.
    9. Aschauer, David Alan, 1985. "Fiscal Policy and Aggregate Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 117-127, March.
    10. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
    11. Christiano, Lawrence J., 1988. "Why does inventory investment fluctuate so much?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 247-280.
    12. Fischer, Stanley, 1977. "Long-Term Contracts, Rational Expectations, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(1), pages 191-205, February.
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