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The Causes of Unemployment in Canada: A Review of the Evidence

  • Stephen S. Poloz

    (Bank of Canada)

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    This paper reviews various competing theories of structural unemployment and considers whether they may be used to explain any of the rise in unemployment experienced by Canada during the most recent economic cycle. The central message that emerges is that one should take into account multiple possible structural explanations when forming judgments about the non-accelerating- inflation rate of unemployment (the NAIRU). Furthermore, the degree of uncertainty associated with existing empirical work suggests that one should allow for a range of NAIRU estimates in reaching an understanding of economic developments. A balanced assessment of the available methodologies suggests that the NAIRU has risen somewhat during the 1990s, mainly because of a steep rise in the rate of payroll taxation. Nevertheless, the paper concludes that this rise in the NAIRU is likely to be temporary, both because the payroll tax effect ought to be digestible over time and because some reforms to the unemployment insurance system have already been implemented.

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    File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mac/papers/9502/9502002.pdf
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    Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Macroeconomics with number 9502002.

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    Length: 25 pages
    Date of creation: 03 Feb 1995
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9502002
    Note: 25 printed pages, compressed PostScript file. If you have trouble viewing the complete document, please print it out on a PostScript printer. Other recent Bank of Canada working papers are listed on the last page of this report. Bank of Canada 94-11
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    1. Ross D. Milbourne & Douglas D. Purvis & W. David Scoones, 1991. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Dynamics," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 24(4), pages 804-26, November.
    2. Ashenfelter, Orley & Card, David, 1986. "Why Have Unemployment Rates in Canada and the United States Diverged?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(210(S)), pages S171-95, Supplemen.
    3. Phipps, Shelley, 1990. "Quantity-Constrainted Household Responses to UI Reform," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(399), pages 124-40, March.
    4. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1986, Volume 1, pages 15-90 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. David Card & Richard B. Freeman, 1993. "Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number card93-1.
    6. Jaeger, Albert & Parkinson, Martin, 1994. "Some evidence on hysteresis in unemployment rates," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 329-342, February.
    7. Adams, Charles & Coe, David T., 1989. "A Systems Approach to Estimating the Natural Rate of Unemployment and Potential Output for the United States," MPRA Paper 8622, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Setterfield, M. A. & Gordon, D. V. & Osberg, L., 1992. "Searching for a will o' the wisp : An empirical study of the NAIRU in Canada," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 119-136, January.
    9. Darby, Michael R & Haltiwanger, John C & Plant, Mark W, 1985. "Unemployment Rate Dynamics and Persistent Unemployment under Rational Expectations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 614-37, September.
    10. Pierre Fortin, 1991. "The Phillips Curve, Macroeconomic Policy, and the Welfare of Canadians," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 24(4), pages 774-803, November.
    11. A Carruth & M Hooker & A Oswald, 1994. "Unemployment, Oil Prices and the Real Interest Rate: Evidence from Canada and the UK," CEP Discussion Papers dp0188, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    12. David T. Coe, 1990. "Structural Determinants of the Natural Rate of Unemployment in Canada," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 37(1), pages 94-115, March.
    13. Eswar Prasad, 1993. "Labor Market Aspects of Industrial Restructuring in Canada," IMF Working Papers 93/91, International Monetary Fund.
    14. David Card, 1992. "A Comparative Analysis of Unemployment in Canada and the United States," Working Papers 677, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    15. John C. Ham & Samuel Rea, 1986. "Unemployment Insurance and Male Unemployment Duration in Canada," Working Papers 592, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    16. Lucie Samson, 1985. "A Study of the Impact of Sectoral Shifts on Aggregate Unemployment in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(3), pages 518-30, August.
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