IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/9536.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies: Evidence and Theory

Author

Listed:
  • Robert Shimer

Abstract

This paper argues that a broad class of search models cannot generate the observed business-cycle-frequency fluctuations in unemployment and job vacancies in response to shocks of a plausible magnitude. In the U.S., the vacancy-unemployment ratio is 20 times as volatile as average labor productivity, while under weak assumptions, search models predict that the vacancy-unemployment ratio and labor productivity have nearly the same variance. I establish this claim both using analytical comparative statics in a very general deterministic search model and using simulations of a stochastic version of the model. I show that a shock that changes average labor productivity primarily alters the present value of wages, generating only a small movement along a downward sloping Beveridge curve (unemployment-vacancy locus). A shock to the job destruction rate generates a counterfactually positive correlation between unemployment and vacancies. In both cases, the shock is only slightly amplified and the model exhibits virtually no propagation. I reconcile these findings with an existing literature and argue that the source of the model's failure is lack of wage rigidity, a consequence of the assumption that wages are determined by Nash bargaining.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Shimer, 2003. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies: Evidence and Theory," NBER Working Papers 9536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9536
    Note: EFG
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9536.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mortensen, Dale & Pissarides, Christopher, 2011. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 1-19.
    2. Flinn, Christopher J & Heckman, James J, 1983. "Are Unemployment and Out of the Labor Force Behaviorally Distinct Labor Force States?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 28-42, January.
    3. Abraham, Katharine G & Katz, Lawrence F, 1986. "Cyclical Unemployment: Sectoral Shifts or Aggregate Disturbances?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 507-522, June.
    4. repec:wop:calsdi:97-23 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Christopher A. Pissarides & Barbara Petrongolo, 2001. "Looking into the Black Box: A Survey of the Matching Function," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(2), pages 390-431, June.
    6. Gomes, Joao & Greenwood, Jeremy & Rebelo, Sergio, 2001. "Equilibrium unemployment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 109-152, August.
    7. Gary Solon & Robert Barsky & Jonathan A. Parker, 1994. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important is Composition Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-25.
    8. Cole, Harold L & Rogerson, Richard, 1999. "Can the Mortensen-Pissarides Matching Model Match the Business-Cycle Facts?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(4), pages 933-959, November.
    9. Stephen R. G. Jones & W. Craig Riddell, 1999. "The Measurement of Unemployment: An Empirical Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(1), pages 147-162, January.
    10. Kenneth Burdett & Shouyong Shi & Randall Wright, 2001. "Pricing and Matching with Frictions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(5), pages 1060-1085, October.
    11. Katharine G. Abraham & John C. Haltiwanger, 1995. "Real Wages and the Business Cycle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(3), pages 1215-1264, September.
    12. Garey Ramey & Wouter J. den Haan & Joel Watson, 2000. "Job Destruction and Propagation of Shocks," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 482-498, June.
    13. Michael J. Pries, 2004. "Persistence of Employment Fluctuations: A Model of Recurring Job Loss," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 193-215.
    14. Garey Ramey & Joel Watson, 1997. "Contractual Fragility, Job Destruction, and Business Cycles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 873-911.
    15. Lilien, David M, 1982. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 777-793, August.
    16. Merz, Monika, 1995. "Search in the labor market and the real business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 269-300, November.
    17. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-990, October.
    18. Abowd, John M & Zellner, Arnold, 1985. "Estimating Gross Labor-Force Flows," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(3), pages 254-283, June.
    19. Peters, Michael, 1991. "Ex Ante Price Offers in Matching Games Non-steady States," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(5), pages 1425-1454, September.
    20. Hoyt Bleakley & Ann E. Ferris & Jeffrey C. Fuhrer, 1999. "New data on worker flows during business cycles," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Jul, pages 49-76.
    21. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Why Has the Natural Rate of Unemployment Increased over Time?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(2), pages 75-142.
    22. Moen, Espen R, 1997. "Competitive Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(2), pages 385-411, April.
    23. Kenneth Burdett & Dale T. Mortensen, 1989. "Equilibrium Wage Differentials and Employer Size," Discussion Papers 860, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    24. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1985. "Short-run Equilibrium Dynamics of Unemployment Vacancies, and Real Wages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 676-690, September.
    25. James D. Montgomery, 1991. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion and Interindustry Wage Differentials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 163-179.
    26. Andolfatto, David, 1996. "Business Cycles and Labor-Market Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 112-132, March.
    27. Oliver Jean Blanchard & Peter Diamond, 1989. "The Beveridge Curve," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 20(1), pages 1-76.
    28. Arthur J. Hosios, 1990. "On The Efficiency of Matching and Related Models of Search and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 279-298.
    29. Katharine G. Abraham & Robert Shimer, 2001. "Changes in Unemployment Duration and Labor Force Attachment," NBER Working Papers 8513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    30. Melvyn G. Coles, 2001. "Equilibrium Wage Dispersion, Firm Size and Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(1), pages 159-187, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Faia, Ester, 2008. "Optimal monetary policy rules with labor market frictions," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 1600-1621, May.
    2. Fang Yao, 2008. "Lumpy Labor Adjustment as a Propagation Mechanism of Business Cycles," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2008-056, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    3. Thomas Lubik & Michael Krause, 2004. "On-the-Job Search and the Cyclical Dynamics of the Labor Market," Economics Working Paper Archive 513, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
    4. Krause, Michael U. & Lubik, Thomas A., 2007. "The (ir)relevance of real wage rigidity in the New Keynesian model with search frictions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 706-727, April.
    5. Moyen, Stephane & Sahuc, Jean-Guillaume, 2005. "Incorporating labour market frictions into an optimising-based monetary policy model," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 159-186, January.
    6. Kenneth Beauchemin & Murat Tasci, 2005. "On the Cyclicality of Labor Market Mismatch and Aggregate Employment Flows," Discussion Papers 05-01, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
    7. Pietro Garibaldi & Etienne Wasmer, 2005. "Equilibrium Search Unemployment, Endogenous Participation, And Labor Market Flows," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(4), pages 851-882, June.
    8. Faia, Ester, 2009. "Ramsey monetary policy with labor market frictions," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 570-581, May.
    9. Faia, Ester & Campolmi, Alessia, 2006. "Cyclical inflation divergence and different labor market institutions in the EMU," Working Paper Series 619, European Central Bank.
    10. Costain, James S. & Reiter, Michael, 2008. "Business cycles, unemployment insurance, and the calibration of matching models," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 1120-1155, April.
    11. Gerke, Rafael & Rubart, Jens, 2003. "Search Unemployment in a Dynamic New Keynesian Model of the Business Cycle," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 119, Darmstadt University of Technology, Department of Law and Economics.
    12. Wesselbaum, Dennis, 2009. "Firing costs in a New Keynesian model with endogenous separations," Kiel Working Papers 1550, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    13. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/8921 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Ester Faia & Alessia Campolmi, 2005. "Inflation Differentials and Different Labor Market Institutions in the EMU," Money Macro and Finance (MMF) Research Group Conference 2005 80, Money Macro and Finance Research Group.
    15. Robert Shimer, 2004. "The Consequences of Rigid Wages in Search Models," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 469-479, 04/05.
    16. Marco Del Negro, 2005. "Aggregate unemployment in Krusell and Smith’s economy: a note," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2005-06, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E3 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
    1. Quantitative Macroeconomics and Real Business Cycles (QM&RBC)

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9536. 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: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.