IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Labour Supply Dynamics, Unemployment and Human Capital Investments

  • Etienne Wasmer

In the last decades, the OECD labor markets faced important labor supply changes with the arrival of women and the cohorts of the baby-boom. Using a survey where workers declare their true employment experience, this paper argues that the supply trend can be equivalent to a trend of more inexperienced workers. The paper proposes to investigate the potentially important consequences of the dynamics of labor supply trends on the skill composition of the labor force, between-groups wage inequality and the level of unemployment. The mechanism highlighted here is that, in periods of sustained growth of the active population, the labor force is younger and less experienced, which may increase the wage return to 'experience' and lead to higher unemployment among low-experience workers. They do not accumulate enough on-the-job human capital, and this reduces in the long-run the supply of skilled workers and the demand for unskilled workers. This intertemporal multiplication of supply shocks generates multiple equilibria. When human capital investment decisions are introduced, low-experience groups try to improve their outcome on the labor market; new cohorts invest in education, women invest in on-the-job skills.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number info:hdl:2441/8943.

in new window

Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Recherches économiques de Louvain, 2004, vol. 70, pp.461-482
Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/8943
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. David Blanchflower & L Katz & G Loveman, 1993. "A Comparison of Changes in the Structure of Wages in Four OECD Countries," CEP Discussion Papers dp0144, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Charlot, Olivier & Decreuse, Bruno, 2005. "Self-selection in education with matching frictions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 251-267, April.
  3. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem," Working papers 427, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  5. Wasmer, Etienne, 1998. "Labor Supply Dynamics, Unemployment and Human Capital Investments," Seminar Papers 651, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  6. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2002. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends, and Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 340-375, June.
  7. de la Croix, David & Docquier, Frédéric, 2003. "Diverging Patterns of Education Premium and School Attendance in France and the US: A Walrasian View," IZA Discussion Papers 846, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Dale T. Mortensen, 1979. "The Matching Process as a Non-Cooperative/Bargaining Game," Discussion Papers 384, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Steven J. Davis, 1992. "Cross-Country Patterns of Change in Relative Wages," NBER Working Papers 4085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 1995. "Labour Market Institutions and the Cohesion of the Middle Class," CEPR Discussion Papers 1298, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  12. McVicar, Duncan & Rice, Patricia, 2000. "Participation in further education in England and Wales: an analysis of post-war trends," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0014, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  13. Pissarides, Christopher A., 1989. "Unemployment consequences of an aging population: An application of insider-outsider theory," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(2-3), pages 355-366, March.
  14. Wasmer, Etienne, 2001. "Measuring human capital in the labor market: The supply of experience in 8 OECD countries," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 861-874, May.
  15. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  16. Jovanovic, Boyan & Nyarko, Yaw, 1994. "The Transfer of Human Capital," Working Papers 94-25, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  17. Mincer, Jacob, 1997. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings: Variations on a Theme," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S26-47, January.
  18. Saint-Paul, G., 1993. "On the Political Economy of Labor Market Flexibility," DELTA Working Papers 93-02, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  19. repec:oup:restud:v:51:y:1984:i:4:p:559-78 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Nickell, S., 1991. "Wages, Unemployment and Population Change," Economics Series Working Papers 99122, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  21. Andrew Hildreth & Stephen Millard & Dale Mortensen & Mark Taylor, 1998. "Wages, work, and unemployment," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(11), pages 1531-1547.
  22. Kevin Murphy & Mark Plant & Finis Welch, 1984. "Cohort Size and Earnings," UCLA Economics Working Papers 352, UCLA Department of Economics.
  23. repec:oup:restud:v:49:y:1982:i:5:p:825-44 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. repec:oup:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:4:p:1371-91 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. repec:fda:fdaddt:2000-02 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Welch, Finis, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S65-97, October.
  27. Nickell, Stephen & Bell, Brian, 1995. "The Collapse in Demand for the Unskilled and Unemployment across the OECD," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 40-62, Spring.
  28. Peter Gottschalk, 1997. "Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 21-40, Spring.
  29. repec:oup:restud:v:61:y:1994:i:3:p:457-75 is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/8943. 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: (Spire @ Sciences Po Library)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.