Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, technological change has led to the automation of existing tasks and the creation of new ones, as well as the reallocation of labor across occupations and industries. These processes have been costly to individual workers, but labor demand has remained strong, and real wages have steadily increased in line with productivity growth. I provide evidence suggesting, however, that in recent decades automation has outpaced the creation of new tasks and thus the demand for labor has declined. There is strong disagreement about the future of labor demand, and predictions about technological breakthroughs have a poor track record. Given the importance of overall labor demand for workers' standard of living as well as their ability to adjust to a changing labor market, obtaining accurate forecasts should be a priority for policy makers.
The received wisdom tells us that the rigidity and inflexibility of European job markets relative to that in the United States is the reason why Europe has high unemployment. This paper argues that this broad brush analysis is simply too vague to be useful. Indeed it is probably positively misleading. Many labor market institutions that conventionally come under the heading of rigidities have no observable impact on unemployment and may otherwise serve a useful purpose.
This paper presents an empirical analysis of unemployment patterns in the OECD countries from the 1960s to the 1990s. Our results indicate the following. First, broad movements in unemployment across the OECD can be explained by shifts in labour market institutions. Second, interactions between average values of these institutions and shocks make no significant additional contribution to our understanding of OECD unemployment changes.
In normative public economics it is crucial to know how fast the marginal utility of income declines as income increases. One needs this parameter for cost-benefit analysis, for optimal taxation and for the (Atkinson) measurement of inequality. We estimate this parameter using four large cross-sectional surveys of subjective happiness and two panel surveys. Altogether, the data cover over 50 countries and time periods between 1972 and 2005. In each of the six very different surveys, using a number of assumptions, we are able to estimate the elasticity of marginal utility with respect to income. We obtain very similar results from each survey. The highest (absolute) value is 1.34 and the lowest is 1.19, with a combined estimate of 1.26. The results are also very similar for subgroups in the population. We also examine whether these estimates (which are based directly on the scale of reported happiness) could be biased upwards if true utility is convex with respect to reported happiness. We find some evidence of such bias, but it is small-yielding a new estimated elasticity of 1.24 for the combined sample.JEL classification: I31, H00, D1, D61, H21.
How does monetary policy work? While one aspect of the investigation has focused on the behaviour of consumers, another has concentrated on the behaviour of companies faced with the kind of financial pressure associated with tight monetary policy. The general focus in this area is on the impact of financial constraints on investment expenditures including fixed capital and inventories. Our purpose is to shift this focus somewhat and to concentrate on the impact of financial pressure on other aspects of company behaviour. We first discuss briefly the theoretical background and the empirical formulation. Then, using panel data on a large number of UK companies, we derive a number of results.
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