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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. Katz, Lawrence F & Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance, Recall Expectations, and Unemployment Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 973-1002, November.
  2. 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.
  3. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 1994. "The effects of monetary policy shocks: evidence from the Flow of Funds," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1991. "Productive externalities and business cycles," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 53, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. 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.
  12. Cogley, Timothy & Nason, James M, 1995. "Output Dynamics in Real-Business-Cycle Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 492-511, June.
  13. Cooper, Russell W. & Johri, Alok, 1997. "Dynamic complementarities: A quantitative analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 97-119, September.
  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. Basu, S., 1993. "Procyclical Productivity: Overhead Inputs or Cyclical Utilization," Papers 93-25, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  18. A. Johri & M-A. Letendre, 2001. "Labour Market Dynamics in RBC Models," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-03, McMaster University.
  19. Craig Burnside & Martin Eichenbaum & Sergio Rebelo, 1990. "Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 3556, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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.
  21. Cooper, Russell & John, Andrew, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-63, August.
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