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Imperfect Information, Lagged Labor Adjustment and the Great Moderation

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  • Tim Willems

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Sweder van Wijnbergen

    (University of Amsterdam)

Abstract

This discussion paper resulted in a publication in the 'Oxford Economic Papers-New Series' , 2013, 65(2), 219-239. This paper first documents the increase in the time lag with which labor input reacts to output fluctuations ("the labor adjustment lag") that is visible in US data since the mid-1980s. We show that a lagged labor adjustment response is optimal in a setting where there is uncertainty about the persistence of shocks and where labor input is costly to adjust. We then present evidence that both the nature of shocks as well as labor adjustment costs may have changed during the 1980s in a direction that could explain the observed increase in the lag. Finally, we argue that the increased labor adjustment lag has the potential to explain some macroeconomic puzzles that characterize post-1984 US data, such as the reduced procyclicality of labor productivity and the reduction in output volatility (known as the Great Moderation).

Suggested Citation

  • Tim Willems & Sweder van Wijnbergen, 2009. "Imperfect Information, Lagged Labor Adjustment and the Great Moderation," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-063/2, Tinbergen Institute, revised 18 Apr 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20090063
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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Y. Mathä & Stephen Millard & Tairi Rõõm & Ladislav Wintr & Robert Wyszyński, 2021. "Shocks and labour cost adjustment: evidence from a survey of European firms," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 1008-1033.
    2. Kevin x.d. Huang & Jie Chen & Zhe Li & Jianfei Sun, 2014. "Financial Conditions and Slow Recoveries," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 14-00004, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    3. Tim Willems, 2010. "Labor Market Matching under Imperfect Information," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-098/2, Tinbergen Institute, revised 13 May 2011.
    4. Michael W. L. Elsby & Bart Hobijn & Aysegul Sahin, 2010. "The Labor Market in the Great Recession," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 41(1 (Spring), pages 1-69.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    imperfect information; labor adjustment; jobless growth; option value of waiting; Great Moderation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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