Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Seminar Papers,
Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies

No 676: Unemployment - Structural

Assar Lindbeck ()
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Assar Lindbeck: Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, Postal: Stockholm University, S-106 69 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Structural unemployment differs from cyclical unemployment by not disappearing in cyclical booms. In economic theory, structural unemployment is usually analysed in terms of the concept of equilibrium unemployment (the "natural unemployment rate" in Friedman’s terminology). Two elaborate concepts of equilibrium unemployment – the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment (the NAIRU) and the unemployment rate that induces firms and workers to accept the same real wage (the PS-WS-model) are used as analytical framework for the paper. These models are also related to search models for the labour market, in which unemployment equilibrium is defined as a situation where the number of individuals finding jobs equals the number of individuals who are separated from jobs. But it is argued in the paper that it is reasonable to widen the concept of structural unemployment to also include unemployment persistence, that is, a tendency for unemployment to continue to be high for quite a while also after temporary unemployment-creating shocks. The paper pinpoints various factors that influence the level of structural unemployment, which differs in time and place. It ends with a discussion of how structural unemployment is influenced by policy actions.

Keywords: equilibrium unemployment; structural unemployment; stock and flow equilibrium in the labour market; unemployment persistence

JEL-codes: E24; J60

22 pages, September 23, 1999

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