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Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle

  • Craig Burnside
  • Martin Eichenbaum
  • Sergio Rebelo

Existing Real Business Cycle (RBC) models assume that the key impulses to business cycles are stochastic technology shocks. RBC analysts typically measure these technology shocks by the Solow residual. This paper assesses the sensitivity of inference based on Solow residual accounting to labor hoarding behavior. Our main results can be summarized as follows. First, the quantitative implications of RBC models are very sensitive to the possibility of labor hoarding. Allowing for such behavior reduces our estimate of the variance of technology shocks by 50%. Depending on the sample period investigated, this reduces the ability of technology shocks to account for aggregate output fluctuations by 30% to 60%. Second, our labor hoarding model is capable of quantitatively accounting for the observed correlation between government consumption and the Solow residual. Third, unlike standard RBC models, our labor hoarding model is consistent with three important qualitative features of the joint behavior of average productivity and hours worked: (i) average productivity and hours worked do not display any marked contemporaneous correlation, (ii) average productivity is positively correlated with future hours worked, and (iii) average productivity is negatively correlated with lagged hours worked.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w3556.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3556.

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Date of creation: Dec 1990
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Publication status: published as Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 101, No. 2, pp. 245-273 (April 1993).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3556
Note: EFG
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  1. Martin S. Eichenbaum & Lars Peter Hansen, 1987. "Estimating Models with Intertemporal Substitution Using Aggregate Time Series Data," NBER Working Papers 2181, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Evans, Charles L., 1992. "Productivity shocks and real business cycles," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 191-208, April.
  3. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "The Relation between Price and Marginal Cost in U.S. Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 921-47, October.
  4. Baxter, Marianne & King, Robert G, 1993. "Fiscal Policy in General Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 315-34, June.
  5. Jess Benhabib & Randall Wright & Richard Rogerson, 1990. "Homework in Macoreconomics I: Basic Theory (Part I of II)," NBER Working Papers 3344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Robert J. Gordon, 1980. "The "End-of-Expansion" Phenomenon in Short-run Productivity Behavior," NBER Working Papers 0427, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Prescott, Edward C., 1986. "Theory ahead of business-cycle measurement," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 11-44, January.
  8. Richard Rogerson, 2010. "Indivisible Labor, Lotteries and Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 250, David K. Levine.
  9. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum, 1990. "Current real business cycle theories and aggregate labor market fluctuations," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 90, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  10. Julio J. Rotemberg & Lawrence H. Summers, 1988. "Labor Hoarding, Inflexible Prices, and Procyclical Productivity," NBER Working Papers 2591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lawrence J. Christiano, 1987. "Why is consumption less volatile than income?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 2-20.
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