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The Output Gap, the Labor Wedge, and the Dynamic Behavior of Hours

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  • Luca Sala
  • Ulf Soderstrom
  • Antonella Trigari

Abstract

We use a standard quantitative business cycle model with nominal price and wage rigidities to estimate two measures of economic inefficiency in recent U.S. data: the output gap - the gap between the actual and effcient levels of output - and the labor wedge|the wedge between households' marginal rate of substitution and firms' marginal product of labor. We establish three results. (i ) The output gap and the labor wedge are closely related, suggesting that most inefficiencies in output are due to the inecient allocation of labor. (ii ) The estimates are sensitive to the structural interpretation of shocks to the labor market, which is ambiguous in the model. (iii ) Movements in hours worked are essentially exogenous, directly driven by labor market shocks, whereas wage rigidities generate a markup of the real wage over the marginal rate of substitution that is acyclical. We conclude that the model fails in two important respects: it does not give clear guidance concerning the eciency of business cycle fluctations, and it provides an unsatisfactory explanation of labor market and business cycle dynamics.

Suggested Citation

  • Luca Sala & Ulf Soderstrom & Antonella Trigari, 2010. "The Output Gap, the Labor Wedge, and the Dynamic Behavior of Hours," Working Papers 365, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:365
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kiley, Michael T., 2013. "Output gaps," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 1-18.
    2. Lawrence Christiano & Mathias Trabandt & Karl Walentin, 2021. "Involuntary Unemployment and the Business Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 39, pages 26-54, January.
    3. Sala, Luca & Söderström, Ulf & Trigari, Antonella, 2008. "Monetary policy under uncertainty in an estimated model with labor market frictions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(5), pages 983-1006, July.
    4. Justiniano, Alejandro & Primiceri, Giorgio E. & Tambalotti, Andrea, 2010. "Investment shocks and business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 132-145, March.
    5. Mark Gertler & Luca Sala & Antonella Trigari, 2008. "An Estimated Monetary DSGE Model with Unemployment and Staggered Nominal Wage Bargaining," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(8), pages 1713-1764, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fabio Canova & Filippo Ferroni & Christian Matthes, 2014. "Choosing The Variables To Estimate Singular Dsge Models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(7), pages 1099-1117, November.
    2. Jordi Galí & Frank Smets & Rafael Wouters, 2012. "Unemployment in an Estimated New Keynesian Model," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 329-360.
    3. Luca Sala, 2015. "Dsge Models in the Frequency Domains," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(2), pages 219-240, March.
    4. Francesco Furlanetto & Martin Seneca, 2012. "Rule-of-Thumb Consumers, Productivity, and Hours," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(2), pages 658-679, June.
    5. Groshenny, Nicolas, 2013. "Monetary Policy, Inflation And Unemployment: In Defense Of The Federal Reserve," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(6), pages 1311-1329, September.
    6. Guy Segal, 2017. "To Respond or Not to Respond: Measures of the Output Gap in Theory and in Practice," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 13(2), pages 73-120, June.
    7. Maik H. Wolters, 2018. "How the baby boomers' retirement wave distorts model‐based output gap estimates," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 33(5), pages 680-689, August.
    8. Igor Vetlov & Tibor Hlédik & Magnus Jonsson & Henrik Kucsera & Massimiliano Pisani, 2011. "Potential Output in DSGE Models," Bank of Lithuania Working Paper Series 9, Bank of Lithuania.
    9. Skibińska, Małgorzata, 2016. "What drives the labour wedge? A comparison between CEE countries and the Euro Area," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 148-161.
    10. Yuemei Ji, 2018. "Why is there so much Inertia in Inflation and Output? A Behavioral Explanation," CESifo Working Paper Series 7181, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

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