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Turnover and the Dynamics of Labor Demand


  • Daniel S. Hamermesh
  • Gerard Pfann


The theory of the dynamics of labor demand is based either on the costs of adjusting the level of employment or on the costs of hiring or firing (of gross changes in employment). We write down a generalized cost of adjustment function that includes both types of cost and allows for asymmetries in those costs. We derive the firm's rational-expectations profit - maximizing path of employment demand and the Euler equation whose parameters we estimate. Identifying the two types of costs requires complete data on turnover, which were available for the U.S. through 1981. We use these data for manufacturing to demonstrate that both types of adjustment cost figure in the representative firm's profit-maximizing decisions about employment, and that both types of cost are asymmetric (leading here to quicker increases than decreases in employment).

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh & Gerard Pfann, 1992. "Turnover and the Dynamics of Labor Demand," NBER Working Papers 4204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4204
    Note: LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-1054, July.
    2. 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.
    3. Gerard A. Pfann & Franz C. Palm, 1993. "Asymmetric Adjustment Costs in Non-linear Labour Demand Models for the Netherlands and U.K. Manufacturing Sectors," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(2), pages 397-412.
    4. Burgess, S M, 1992. "Nonlinear Dynamics in a Structural Model of Employment," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(S), pages 101-118, Suppl. De.
    5. Sargan, John Denis & Bhargava, Alok, 1983. "Testing Residuals from Least Squares Regression for Being Generated by the Gaussian Random Walk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(1), pages 153-174, January.
    6. Samuel Bentolila & Giuseppe Bertola, 1990. "Firing Costs and Labour Demand: How Bad is Eurosclerosis?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(3), pages 381-402.
    7. 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.
    8. Sara Behman, 1964. "Labor Mobility, Increasing Labor Demand, and Money Wage-Rate Increases in United States Manufacturing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 31(4), pages 253-266.
    9. McLaughlin, Kenneth J, 1991. "A Theory of Quits and Layoffs with Efficient Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 1-29, February.
    10. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1992. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction, and Employment Reallocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 819-863.
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