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The Amplification of Unemployment Fluctuations through Self-Selection


  • Robert E. Hall


Unemployment arises from frictions in the matching of job-seekers and employers. The level of resources that employers devote to evaluating applicants for jobs is a key factor in the magnitude of the frictions. Unemployment will be low if employers can review applicants cheaply. The cost of evaluation per hire depends on the fraction of applicants who are qualified for the job. Applicants may be better informed about their qualifications than are employers. If incentives induce self-selection by job-seekers, so that they apply mainly for jobs where they are qualified, friction and thus unemployment will be low. Self-selection is strongest in markets where unemployment is low and jobs are easy to find. Because of this positive feedback, the equilibrium in a market with self-selection is fragile -- unemployment is sensitive to its determinants. Self-selection provides a mechanism for amplification of small changes in the determinants of unemployment.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert E. Hall, 2005. "The Amplification of Unemployment Fluctuations through Self-Selection," NBER Working Papers 11186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11186
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mortensen, Dale & Pissarides, Christopher, 2011. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 1-19.
    2. Abraham, Katharine G & Katz, Lawrence F, 1986. "Cyclical Unemployment: Sectoral Shifts or Aggregate Disturbances?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 507-522, June.
    3. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
    4. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "The Theory of "Screening," Education, and the Distribution of Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 283-300, June.
    5. Lilien, David M, 1982. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 777-793, August.
    6. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    7. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
    8. Montgomery, James D, 1999. "Adverse Selection and Employment Cycles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 281-297, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Keuschnigg & Soren Bo Nielsen, 2006. "Self-Selection and Advice in Venture Capital Finance," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2006 2006-06, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    2. Philip Schuster, 2010. "Labor Market Policy Instruments and the Role of Economic Turbulence," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2010 2010-29, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
    3. Michael Pries, 2008. "Worker Heterogeneity and Labor Market Volatility in Matching Models," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(3), pages 664-678, July.

    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
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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