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Spatial and Temporal Aggregation in the Dynamics of Labor Demand


  • Daniel S. Hamermesh


The paper demonstrates the general difficulty of inferring the structure of adjustment costs from aggregated, including industry data, except in the unlikely case that costs are symmetric and quadratic at the micro level. The implications of this difficulty for cross-national comparisons of adjustment costs, and for attempts to infer the structure of these costs without micro data, are examined. In the voluminous literature on dynamic labor demand studies based on annual data generally find longer lags than those that use quarterly data, which in turn produce longer lags than models estimated using monthly data. However, when a consistent set of U.S. industry time series is used, and quadratic symmetric costs are assumed, the estimated length of the lag is independent of the frequency of observation. This conclusion is clearly not general: If we assume the costs of adjusting labor demand are lumpy, inferences about their structure differ greatly depending on how often the data are observed.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1992. "Spatial and Temporal Aggregation in the Dynamics of Labor Demand," NBER Working Papers 4055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4055
    Note: LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Katharine G. Abraham & Susan N. Houseman, 1993. "Job Security and Work Force Adjustment: How Different are U.S. and Japanese Practices?," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers,in: Christopher F. Buechtemann (ed.), Employment Security and Labor Market Behavior: Interdisciplinary Approaches and International Evidence, pages 180-199 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    2. Nadiri, M Ishaq & Rosen, Sherwin, 1969. "Interrelated Factor Demand Functions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(4), pages 457-471, Part I Se.
    3. Burgess, Simon M & Dolado, Juan J, 1989. "Intertemporal Rules with Variable Speed of Adjustment: An Application to U.K. Manufacturing Employment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(396), pages 347-365, June.
    4. Matthew D. Shapiro, 1986. "The Dynamic Demand for Capital and Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 513-542.
    5. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1989. "Labor Demand and the Structure of Adjustment Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 674-689, September.
    6. Robert F. Engle & Ta-Chung Liu, 1972. "Effects of Aggregation Over Time on Dynamic Characteristics of an Econometric Model," NBER Chapters,in: Econometric Models of Cyclical Behavior, Volumes 1 and 2, pages 673-737 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Stoker, Thomas M, 1986. "Simple Tests of Distributional Effects on Macroeconomic Equations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 763-795, August.
    8. John Muellbauer, 1981. "Linear Aggregation in Neoclassical Labour Supply," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 48(1), pages 21-36.
    9. Geweke, John, 1985. "Macroeconometric Modeling and the Theory of the Representative Agent," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 206-210, May.
    10. Timothy Dunne & Mark J. Roberts & Larry Samuelson, 1989. "The Growth and Failure of U. S. Manufacturing Plants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(4), pages 671-698.
    11. Pindyck, Robert S & Rotemberg, Julio J, 1983. "Dynamic Factor Demands and the Effects of Energy Price Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1066-1079, December.
    12. Jonathan S. Leonard, 1986. "In the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time: The Extent of Frictional and Structural Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 1979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Sargent, Thomas J, 1978. "Estimation of Dynamic Labor Demand Schedules under Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 1009-1044, December.
    14. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Rosen, Harvey S, 1991. "Municipal Labor Demand in the Presence of Uncertainty: An Econometric Approach," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(3), pages 276-293, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. José Varejão & Pedro Portugal, 2007. "Employment Dynamics and the Structure of Labor Adjustment Costs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 137-165.
    2. Lucia Foster, 1999. "Employment Adjustment Costs and Establishment Characteristics," Working Papers 99-15, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    3. Varejão, José & Portugal, Pedro, 2007. "Spatial and Temporal Aggregation in the Estimation of Labor Demand Functions," IZA Discussion Papers 2701, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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