Working Paper

On the Non-Inflationary Effects of Long-Term Unemployment Reductions

Working Paper Series By

Download paper

Contrary to the New Keynesian paradigm, long-term unemployment can be reversed without a significant uptick in inflation

The paper critically examines the New Keynesian explanation of hysteresis based on the role of long-term unemployment. We first examine its analytical foundations, according to which rehiring long-term unemployed individuals would not be possible without accelerating inflation. Then we empirically assess its validity along two lines of inquiry. First, we investigate the reversibility of long-term unemployment. Then we focus on episodes of sustained long-term unemployment reductions to check for inflationary effects. Specifically, in a panel of 25 OECD countries (from 1983 to 2016), we verify by means of local projections whether they are associated with inflationary pressures in a subsequent five-year window. Two main results emerge: i) the evolution of the long-term unemployment rate is almost completely synchronous with the dynamics of the total unemployment rate, both during downswings and upswings; ii) we do not find indications of accelerating or persistently higher inflation during and after episodes of strong declines in the long- term unemployment rate, even when they occur in country-years in which the actual unemployment rate was estimated to be below a conventionally estimated Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment (NAIRU). Our results call into question the role of long-term unemployment in causing hysteresis and provide support to policy implications that are at variance with the conventional wisdom that regards the NAIRU as an inflationary barrier.

Working Paper Series By