Labour Force Participation and the Business Cycle: A Comparative Analysis of Europe, Japan and the United States
Using OECD data from 1970 until 1995, we estimate systems of labour force participation equations, disaggregated by age and sex, for the United States, Japan, France and Sweden. We simulate the path of participation rates following shocks to GDP and also test for asymmetric responses to shocks occurring in upward and downward phases of the cycle. Our methodology is especially pertinent to the issue of hidden unemployment and the "discouraged worker effect". We find that this effect is essentially a female phenomenon with a particular concentration among 45 to 54 year olds.
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