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The Challenge of High Unemployment

  • Alan S. Blinder

It is argued that policymakers, macroeconomists and microeconomists should all take high unemployment more seriously. The shortcomings of existing theories of unemployment are discussed, and a new definition of involuntary unemployment is proposed. A model is sketched in which falling aggregate demand leads to "Keynesian" unemployment because labor is heterogeneous and relative wages matter. Microeconomic theory is criticized for assuming away unemployment and, in the process, radically changing the answers to some basic questions in trade theory and public finance. Finally, some speculative explanations are offered for the low unemployment now found in states like New Jersey and Massachusetts.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2489.

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Date of creation: Jan 1988
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Publication status: published as Blinder, Alan S. "The Challenge of High Unemployment." From The American Economic Review, Vol. 78, No. 2, pp. 1-15, (May 1988).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2489
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  1. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem," Working papers 427, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Michael H. Riordan & Robert W. Staiger, 1988. "Sectoral Shocks and Structural Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 2522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. KIEFER, Nicholas M. & NEUMANN, George R., . "An empirical job-search model, with a test of the constant reservation-wage hypothesis," CORE Discussion Papers RP 358, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
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  6. Altonji, Joseph & Ashenfelter, Orley, 1980. "Wage Movements and the Labour Market Equilibrium Hypothesis," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 47(187), pages 217-45, August.
  7. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
  8. Laurence Ball & David Romer, 1989. "Are Prices Too Sticky?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(3), pages 507-524.
  9. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1985. "Small Menu Costs and Large Business Cycles: A Macroeconomic Model of Monopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 529-538.
  10. Blanchard, Olivier Jean, 1990. "Why does money affect output? A survey," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 15, pages 779-835 Elsevier.
  11. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-283.
  12. Andrew C. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Laurence Ball & David Romer, 1990. "Real Rigidities and the Non-Neutrality of Money," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 183-203.
  14. Alan S. Blinder, 1981. "Retail Inventory Behavior and Business Fluctuations," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(2), pages 443-520.
  15. Avner Bar-Ilan & Alan S. Blinder, 1988. "Consumer Durables and the Optimality of Usually Doing Nothing," NBER Working Papers 2488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Alan S. Blinder, 1986. "Keynes after Lucas," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 209-216, Jul-Sep.
  17. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1985. "A Near-Rational Model of the Business Cycle, with Wage and Price Inertia," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 100(Supplemen), pages 823-838.
  18. Kim B. Clark & Lawrence H. Summers, 1979. "Labor Market Dynamics and Unemployemnt: A Reconsideration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 10(1), pages 13-72.
  19. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro, 1987. "Monopolistic Competition and the Effects of Aggregate Demand," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 647-66, September.
  20. Gordon, Robert J, 1988. "The Role of Wages in the Inflation Process," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 276-83, May.
  21. Dixit, Avinash, 1976. "Public finance in a Keynesian temporary equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 242-258, April.
  22. Geary, Patrick T & Kennan, John, 1982. "The Employment-Real Wage Relationship: An International Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 854-71, August.
  23. Richard A. Brecher, 1974. "Minimum Wage Rates and the Pure Theory of International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 88(1), pages 98-116.
  24. Bils, Mark J, 1985. "Real Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(4), pages 666-89, August.
  25. Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Why is the Unemployment Rate So Very High near Full Employment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 17(2), pages 339-396.
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