Hysteresis in Unemployment: Old and New Evidence
This paper argues that hysteresis helps explain the long-run behavior of unemployment. The natural rate of unemployment is influenced by the path of actual unemployment, and hence by shifts in aggregate demand. I review past evidence for hysteresis effects and present new evidence for 20 developed countries. A central finding is that large increases in the natural rate are associated with disinflations, and large decreases with run-ups in inflation. These facts are consistent with hysteresis theories and inconsistent with theories in which the natural rate is independent of aggregate demand.
This paper was prepared for "A Phillips Curve Retrospective" sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in June 2008. I am grateful for research assistance from Sandeep Mazumder and for comments from V.V. Chari, Jordi Gali, Engelbert Stockhammer, two anonymous referees, and conference participants. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.