Procyclical Labor Productivity and Competing Theories of the Business Cycle: Some Evidence from Interwar U.S. Manufacturing Industries
Each of the main explanations of procyclical labor productivity, or short-run increasing returns to labor (SRIRL), is closely associated with a competing theory of the business cycle: Real business cycle theorists attribute SRIRL to procyclical technological shocks, proponents of recent theories based on non-convexities believe that SRIRL reflects true increasing returns, and Keynesians favor a labor hoarding explanation. Thus evidence on the sources of SRIRL may be important for discriminating among alternative theories of the cycle. This paper studies the sources of SRIRL in a sample of ten interwar U.S. manufacturing industries. Our main findings are that SRIRL was common in the interwar period and that the pattern of SRIRL across industries was similar to that observed in the postwar period. we argue that, under the presumption that the Depression was not caused by large negative technological shocks, these findings are inconsistent with the technological shocks hypothesis and provide evidence against real business cycle theory in general. we propose tests for discriminating between the increasing returns and labor hoarding explanations but find that our conclusions differ by industry.
|Date of creation:||Oct 1990|
|Publication status:||published as Journal of Political Economy 99(3): 439-59, June 1991.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1989.
"Building Blocks of Market Clearing Business Cycle Models,"
in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4, pages 247-302
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1989. "Building Blocks of Market Clearing Business Cycle Models," NBER Working Papers 3004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- F. P. R. Brechling, 1965. "The Relationship between Output and Employment in British Manufacturing Industries," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(3), pages 187-216.
- Robert S. Chirinko, 1993. "Non-convexities, labor hoarding, technology shocks, and procyclical productivity: a structural econometric approach," Research Working Paper 93-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
- R. J. Ball & E. B. A. St Cyr, 1966. "Short Term Employment Functions in British Manufacturing Industry," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(3), pages 179-207.
- Fay, Jon A & Medoff, James L, 1985. "Labor and Output over the Business Cycle: Some Direct Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 638-655, September.
- Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1988. "Labor Hoarding, Inflexible Prices, and Procyclical Productivity," NBER Working Papers 2591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Ricardo J. Caballero & Richard K. Lyons, 1989. "The Role of External Economies in U.S. Manufacturing," NBER Working Papers 3033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 1989. "A computationally simple heteroskedasticity and serial correlation robust standard error for the linear regression model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 239-243, December.
- King, Robert G & Plosser, Charles I, 1984. "Money, Credit, and Prices in a Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(3), pages 363-380, June.
- Christopher A. Sims, 1974. "Output and Labor Input in Manufacturing," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 5(3), pages 695-736.
- Gary S. Becker, 1962. "Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 1-9.
- Daniel Creamer & Sergei Dobrovolsky & Israel Borenstein, 1960. "Capital in Manufacturing and Mining: Its Formation and Financing," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number crea60-1, September.
- Hunter, Helen Manning, 1982. "The Role of Business Liquidity During the Great Depression and Afterwards: Differences Between Large and Small Firms," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(04), pages 883-902, December.
- Walter Y. Oi, 1962. "Labor as a Quasi-Fixed Factor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 538-538.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3503. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.