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The Supply of Skills in the Labor Force and Aggregate Output Volatility


  • Steven Lugauer

    () (Department of Economics, University of Notre Dame)


The cyclical volatility of U.S. gross domestic product suddenly declined during the early 1980s and remained low for over 20 years. I develop a labor search model with worker heterogeneity and match-specific costs to show how an increase in the supply of high-skill workers can contribute to a decrease in aggregate output volatility. In the model, firms react to changes in the distribution of skills by creating jobs designed specifically for high-skill workers. The new worker-firm matches are more profitable and less likely to break apart due to productivity shocks. Aggregate output volatility falls because the labor market stabilizes on the extensive margin. In a simple calibration exercise, the labor market based mechanism generates a substantial portion of the observed changes in output volatility.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven Lugauer, 2012. "The Supply of Skills in the Labor Force and Aggregate Output Volatility," Working Papers 005, University of Notre Dame, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:nod:wpaper:005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nir Jaimovich & Henry E. Siu, 2009. "The Young, the Old, and the Restless: Demographics and Business Cycle Volatility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 804-826, June.
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    11. Robert Shimer, 2001. "The Impact of Young Workers on the Aggregate Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 969-1007.
    12. Steven Lugauer, 2012. "Estimating the Effect of the Age Distribution on Cyclical Output Volatility Across the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 896-902, November.
    13. Steven Lugauer & Richard Jensen & Clayton Sadler, 2014. "An Estimate Of The Age Distribution'S Effect On Carbon Dioxide Emissions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(2), pages 914-929, April.
    14. Rui Castro & Daniele Coen-Pirani, 2008. "WHY HAVE AGGREGATE SKILLED HOURS BECOME SO CYCLICAL SINCE THE MID-1980s?," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(1), pages 135-185, February.
    15. Coen-Pirani, Daniele & León, Alexis & Lugauer, Steven, 2010. "The effect of household appliances on female labor force participation: Evidence from microdata," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 503-513, June.
    16. James Feyrer, 2007. "Demographics and Productivity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 100-109, February.
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    1. The Supply of Skills in the Labor Force and Aggregate Output Volatility
      by Christian Zimmermann in NEP-DGE blog on 2012-11-20 10:13:04

    More about this item


    Business Cycles; Skill Supply; Demographics;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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