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The Scarring Effect of Recessions

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  • Min Ouyang

    () (Economics University of Maryland at College Park)

Abstract

This paper explores the role that recessions play in resource allocation. The conventional cleansing view, advanced by Schumpeter in 1934, argues that recessions promote more efficient resource allocation by driving out less productive units and freeing up resources for better uses. However, empirical evidence is at odds with this view: average labor productivity is procyclical, and jobs created during recessions tend to be short-lived. This paper posits an additional "scarring" effect: recessions "scar" the economy by killing off "potentially good firms". By adding learning to a vintage model, I show that as a recession arrives and persists, the reduced profitability limits the scope of learning, makes labor less concentrated on good firms, and thus pulls down average productivity. Calibrating my model using data on job flows from the U.S. manufacturing sector, I find that the scarring effect is likely to dominate the conventional cleansing effect, and can account for the observed pro-cyclical average labor productivity

Suggested Citation

  • Min Ouyang, 2005. "The Scarring Effect of Recessions," Computing in Economics and Finance 2005 205, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf5:205
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    2. Mayer, Eric & Rüth, Sebastian & Scharler, Johann, 2016. "Total factor productivity and the propagation of shocks: Empirical evidence and implications for the business cycle," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 335-346.
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    4. Tian, Can, 2011. "Technology choice and endogenous productivity dispersion over the business cycles," MPRA Paper 34480, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 Nov 2011.
    5. Daniel Fackler & Claus Schnabel & Joachim Wagner, 2013. "Establishment exits in Germany: the role of size and age," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 683-700, October.
    6. Min Ouyang, 2006. "Plant Life Cycle and Aggregate Employment Dynamics," Working Papers 050632, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    7. Chiara Criscuolo & Peter N. Gal & Carlo Menon, 2017. "Do micro start-ups fuel job creation? Cross-country evidence from the DynEmp Express database," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 393-412, February.
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    14. repec:iza:izawol:journl:2017:n:340 is not listed on IDEAS
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    18. Chilimoniuk-Przeździecka Eliza, 2011. "Offshoring in Business Services Sector Over the Business Cycle: A Case of Growth of the International Cooperation," Folia Oeconomica Stetinensia, De Gruyter Open, vol. 10(1), pages 7-19, January.
    19. Martin Watzinger, 2016. "The Effect of a Credit Crunch on Equilibrium Market Structure," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 48(1), pages 105-130, June.
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    25. Muriel Dal-Pont Legrand & Harald Hagemann, 2015. "Can Recessions be 'Productive'? Schumpeter and the Moderns," GREDEG Working Papers 2015-23, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business Cycles; Cleansing Effect; Scarring Effect; Creative Destruction; Learning; Job Flows;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • L16 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Industrial Organization and Macroeconomics; Macroeconomic Industrial Structure
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis

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