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Why Has the Cyclicality of Productivity Changed? What Does It Mean?

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Listed:
  • J. Wang

    (FRB Boston)

  • John Fernald

    (FRB San Francisco)

Abstract

U.S. labor and total factor productivity have historically been procyclical—rising in booms and falling in recessions. After the mid-1980s, however, TFP became much less procyclical with respect to hours while labor productivity turned strongly countercyclical. We find that the key empirical “fact†driving these changes is reduced variation in factor utilization—conceptually, the workweek of capital and labor effort. We discuss a range of theories that seek to explain the changes in productivity’s cyclicality. Increased flexibility, changes in the structure of the economy, and shifts in relative variances of technology and “demand†shocks appear to play key roles.

Suggested Citation

  • J. Wang & John Fernald, 2016. "Why Has the Cyclicality of Productivity Changed? What Does It Mean?," 2016 Meeting Papers 1220, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed016:1220
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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