NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Are Business Cycles Symmetric?

J. Bradford De Long, Lawrence H. Summers

NBER Working Paper No. 1444 (Also Reprint No. r0780)
Issued in November 1986
NBER Program(s):   EFG

This note shows that contrary to widespread belief there is little evidence that the business cycle is asymmetric. Using American data for the pre- and post-war periods and data on five other major OECD nations for the post-war period, we are unable to support the hypothesis that contractions are shorter and sharper than expansions. We conclude that there is not much basis for preferring some version of traditional cyclical techniques to more modern statistical methods.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1444

Published: "Are Business Cycles Symmetrical?" From The American Business Cycle: Con-tinuity and Change, edited by Robert J. Gordon, pp. 166-178. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, (1986).

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