Unemployment and Other Measures of Labor Market Inefficiency: A Comparison of UK and US Labor Markets 1931-1996

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Although unemployment is often used as a measure of labor market inefficiency, economic theory indicates that market inefficiency is determined by both the gap between and the elasticities of supply and demand Using time series data for the United States and United Kingdom, this article investigates how good the unemployment rate is as a measure of labor market inefficiency by calculating the deadweight loss associated with unemployment rates over time. Results show that the loss arising from unemployment is low across time and countries and that the unemployment rate is often a weak proxy for comparing labor market inefficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-643
Number of pages15
JournalEconomic Inquiry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


  • intertemporal substitution
  • Okuns Law
  • coefficient
  • cost

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