Two Essays in Macroeconomics

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Castro and Coen-Pirani (2008) document that aggregate skilled hours and employment both became more volatile after the mid-1980s, in contrast to the simultaneous volatility decline of most aggregates, including overall hours and employment and unskilled hours and employment. In chapter 1, I propose that rising efficiency in matching skilled workers to vacancies accounts for this change. The rise of general-purpose information technology made the skills of well-educated workers more transferable across firms and industries, and this increased the suitability of unemployed skilled workers for a broader range of job vacancies. In turn this implies a larger increase in the flow of skilled labor into employment during economic booms. This causes skilled aggregates to be more volatile. I embed a simple search and matching mechanism in a typical dynamic general equilibrium model to demonstrate this idea.

The purpose of chapter 2 is to explore the contribution of capital-skill complementarity to short-run employment fluctuations. Given that such complementarity is a leading explanation for long-run changes in the skill premium, it is interesting to check its short-run implications for employment volatility. The numerical results show that complementarity can make skilled employment more volatile than the unskilled, but it can not improve standard DSGE models' implications for overall labor market' volatility.