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Learning by Doing and Aggregate Fluctuations

  • R Cooper
  • Alok Johri

A major unresolved issue in business cycle theory is the construction of an endogenous propagation mechanism capable of capturing the persistence displayed in the data. In this paper we explore the quantitative implications of one propagation mechanism: learning by doing. Estimation of the parameters characterizing learning by doing is based on aggregate, 2-digit and plant level observations in the US. The estimated learning by doing function is then integrated into a stochastic growth model in which fluctuations are driven by technology shocks. We conclude that learning by doing can be a powerful mechanism for generating endogenous persistence. Moreover learning by doing modifies the labor supply decision of the representative agent making it forward looking. This has a number of implications for the interpretation of labor supply shifts as “taste shocks” and the cyclical utilization of labor which we explore in the paper.

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File URL: http://socserv.socsci.mcmaster.ca/econ/rsrch/papers/archive/2000-02.pdf
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Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2000-02.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2000-02
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  1. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1991. "Productive externalities and business cycles," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 53, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Timothy Cogley & James M. Nason, 1993. "Output dynamics in real business cycle models," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 93-10, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Christiano, Lawrence J & Eichenbaum, Martin & Evans, Charles, 1996. "The Effects of Monetary Policy Shocks: Evidence from the Flow of Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 16-34, February.
  4. Hall, Robert E, 1997. "Macroeconomic Fluctuations and the Allocation of Time," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S223-50, January.
  5. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "Current real business cycle theories and aggregate labor market fluctuations," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 90, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. Basu, S. & Fernald, J.G., 1993. "Are Apparent Productive Spillovers a Figment of Specification Error," Papers 93-22, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  7. A. Johri & M-A. Letendre, 2001. "Labour Market Dynamics in RBC Models," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-03, McMaster University.
  8. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1995. "Capital Utilization and Returns to Scale," NBER Working Papers 5125, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum, 1994. "Factor Hoarding and the Propagation of Business Cycles Shocks," NBER Working Papers 4675, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lawrence F. Katz & Bruce D. Meyer, 1988. "Unemployment Insurance, Recall Expectations, And Unemployment Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 2594, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Burnside, Craig & Eichenbaum, Martin & Rebelo, Sergio, 1993. "Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 245-73, April.
  12. Basu, S., 1993. "Procyclical Productivity: Overhead Inputs or Cyclical Utilization," Papers 93-25, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  13. King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1988. "Production, growth and business cycles : I. The basic neoclassical model," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 195-232.
  14. Bahk, Byong-Hong & Gort, Michael, 1993. "Decomposing Learning by Doing in New Plants," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 561-83, August.
  15. Russell Cooper & John Haltiwanger, 1993. "Evidence on Macroeconomic Complementarities," NBER Working Papers 4577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Rotemberg, Julio J & Woodford, Michael, 1996. "Real-Business-Cycle Models and the Forecastable Movements in Output, Hours, and Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 71-89, March.
  17. Russell Cooper & Alok Johri, 1996. "Dynamic Complementarities: A Quantitative Analysis," NBER Working Papers 5691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Russell Cooper & Andrew John, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-463.
  19. King, Robert G. & Plosser, Charles I. & Rebelo, Sergio T., 1988. "Production, growth and business cycles : II. New directions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2-3), pages 309-341.
  20. Susumu Imai & Michael P. Keane, 2004. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Human Capital Accumulation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(2), pages 601-641, 05.
  21. Irwin, Douglas A & Klenow, Peter J, 1994. "Learning-by-Doing Spillovers in the Semiconductor Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1200-1227, December.
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