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Search and Rest Unemployment

  • Fernando Alvarez
  • Robert Shimer

This paper extends Lucas and Prescott's (1974) search model to develop a notion of rest unemployment. The economy consists of a continuum of labor markets, each of which produces a heterogeneous good. There is a constant returns to scale production technology in each labor market, but labor productivity is continually hit by idiosyncratic shocks, inducing the costly reallocation of workers across labor markets. Under some conditions, some workers may be rest-unemployed, waiting for local labor market conditions to improve, rather than engaged in time consuming search. The model has distinct notions of unemployment (moving to a new labor market or waiting for labor market conditions to improve) and inactivity (enjoying leisure while disconnected from the labor market). We obtain closed-form expressions for key aggregate variables and use them to evaluate the model. Quantitatively, we find that in the U.S. economy many more people may be in rest unemployment than in search unemployment.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13772.

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Date of creation: Feb 2008
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Publication status: published as Fernando Alvarez & Robert Shimer, 2011. "Search and Rest Unemployment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(1), pages 75-122, 01.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13772
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  2. Ian P. King, 1990. "A Natural Rate Model of Frictional and Long-term Unemployment," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(3), pages 523-45, August.
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  10. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1987. "Work, Rest, and Search: Unemployment, Turnover, and the Cycle," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(2), pages 131-48, April.
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  12. Clifford Ball & Antonio Roma, 1998. "Detecting mean reversion within reflecting barriers: application to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism," Applied Mathematical Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(1), pages 1-15.
  13. Bentolila, Samuel & Bertola, Giuseppe, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad Is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402, July.
  14. Scott Schuh & Robert K. Triest, 2000. "Role of firms in job creation and destruction in U.S. manufacturing," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Mar, pages 29-44.
  15. Gouge, Randall & King, Ian, 1997. "A Competitive Theory of Employment Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(1), pages 1-22, January.
  16. Atkenson, Andrew & Khan, Aubhik & Ohanian, Lee, 1996. "Are data on industry evolution and gross job turnover relevant for macroeconomics?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 215-239, June.
  17. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Why Has the Natural Rate of Unemployment Increased over Time?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 75-142.
  18. R. Jason Faberman, 2003. "Job Flows and Establishment Characteristics: Variations Across U.S. Metropolitan Areas," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-609, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  19. Loungani, Prakash & Rogerson, Richard, 1989. "Cyclical fluctuations and sectoral reallocation : Evidence from the PSID," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 259-273, March.
  20. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Prescott, Edward C., 1974. "Equilibrium search and unemployment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 188-209, February.
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