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The Ins and Outs of Unemployment: The Ins Win


  • Michael R. Darby
  • John C. Haltiwanger
  • Mark W. Plant


This paper develops a framework for analyzing unemployment in terms of variations in the nt.imber and distribution of people becoming unemployed and in individual probabilities of leaving unemployment. Contrary to the emphasis on exit probabilities in the recent macroeconomics literature, we present empirical evidence in support of the proposition that changes in the size and distribution of the inflow Into unemployment are the primary determinant of the unemployment rate. Instead of falling at the beginning of a recession, the outflow rate rises (with a lag) in response to the increased inflows which drive the recession. In contrast to normal unemployment, cyclical unemployment is concentrated in groups with low normal exit probabilities; so the observed procyclical variation in the average exit probability may largely he explained by predictable distributional effects.

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  • Michael R. Darby & John C. Haltiwanger & Mark W. Plant, 1986. "The Ins and Outs of Unemployment: The Ins Win," NBER Working Papers 1997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1997
    Note: LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Topel, Robert H, 1982. "Inventories, Layoffs, and the Short-Run Demand for Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 769-787, September.
    2. John Haltiwanger, 1985. "Inventories, Multiperiod Implicit Contracts, and the Dynamic Behavior if the Firm Under Uncertainty," UCLA Economics Working Papers 374, UCLA Department of Economics.
    3. Blinder, Alan S. & Fischer, Stanley, 1981. "Inventories, rational expectations, and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 277-304.
    4. Darby, Michael R & Haltiwanger, John C & Plant, Mark W, 1985. "Unemployment Rate Dynamics and Persistent Unemployment under Rational Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 614-637, September.
    5. Heckman, James J & Borjas, George J, 1980. "Does Unemployment Cause Future Unemployment? Definitions, Questions and Answers from a Continuous Time Model of Heterogeneity and State Dependence," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 47(187), pages 247-283, August.
    6. James M. Poterba & Lawrence H. Summers, 1984. "Adjusting the Gross Changes Data: Implications for Labor Market Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 1436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Lilien, David M, 1982. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 777-793, August.
    8. Abowd, John M & Zellner, Arnold, 1985. "Estimating Gross Labor-Force Flows," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 254-283, June.
    9. Burdett, Kenneth & Ondrich, Jan I, 1985. "How Changes in Labor Demand Affect Unemployed Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-10, January.
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