Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle

52 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2007 Last revised: 21 Sep 2010

See all articles by A. Craig Burnside

A. Craig Burnside

Duke University - Department of Economics; University of Glasgow - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Martin Eichenbaum

Northwestern University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Sergio T. Rebelo

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 1990

Abstract

Existing Real Business Cycle (RBC) models assume that the key impulses to business cycles are stochastic technology shocks. RBC analysts typically measure these technology shocks by the Solow residual. This paper assesses the sensitivity of inference based on Solow residual accounting to labor hoarding behavior. Our main results can be summarized as follows. First, the quantitative implications of RBC models are very sensitive to the possibility of labor hoarding. Allowing for such behavior reduces our estimate of the variance of technology shocks by 50%. Depending on the sample period investigated, this reduces the ability of technology shocks to account for aggregate output fluctuations by 30% to 60%. Second, our labor hoarding model is capable of quantitatively accounting for the observed correlation between government consumption and the Solow residual. Third, unlike standard RBC models, our labor hoarding model is consistent with three important qualitative features of the joint behavior of average productivity and hours worked: (i) average productivity and hours worked do not display any marked contemporaneous correlation, (ii) average productivity is positively correlated with future hours worked, and (iii) average productivity is negatively correlated with lagged hours worked.

Suggested Citation

Burnside, Craig and Eichenbaum, Martin and Tavares Rebelo, Sergio, Labor Hoarding and the Business Cycle (December 1990). NBER Working Paper No. w3556. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=471530

Craig Burnside (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

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University of Glasgow - Department of Economics

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Martin Eichenbaum

Northwestern University ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Sergio Tavares Rebelo

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Leverone Hall
Evanston, IL 60208
United States
847-467-2329 (Phone)
847-491-5719 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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