Relative Cohort Size and Unemployment in the United States

Carsten Ochsen, University of Applied Labour Studies and Max Planck Institute of Demographic Research

Since the 1970s it was argued in different studies that aging of the labor force reduces the unemployment rate (cohort crowding hypothesis). However, Robert Shimer (2001) provoked a debate with his controversial result that the overall unemployment rate tends to be lower when many young people supply labor. In contrast to other studies, he uses regional (state level) data. In this study I apply different regional data sets (including Robert Shimers original data) and analyze how aging affects unemployment in a framework that considers spatial interactions. At the state level, I can neither con.rm the findings of Robert Shimer nor the cohort crowding hypothesis. Using county level data, however, I find local effects that are compatible with the cohort crowding hypothesis but also with specific assumptions about the heterogeneity of older and younger workers.

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Presented in Session 124: Consequences of Population Aging on Labor Markets