Robert E. Hall: The Extreme Inequality of the Burden of Unemployment, Interim Jobs, and Brief Spells Out of the Labor Force


Monday, December 2, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Note change: Now in Malkin Penthouse

Robert E. HallRobert and Carole McNeil Joint Hoover Senior Fellow and Professor of Economics, Stanford University.

Robert E. HallWe study the paths over time that individual workers follow in the labor market, as revealed in the monthly Current Population Survey.

After losing a job, the typical individual spends some time out of the labor force and in unemployment. Only a month or two later, in normal times, the worker lands a job. But the job is frequently brief. Over the next few months, some workers find good matches in longer-term jobs. Short-term employment shares some of the characteristics of unemployment and some of the characteristics of employment.

We show that circling among short-term jobs, unemployment, and being out of the labor force is concentrated in a segment of the working-age population in which heterogeneity is substantial. Unemployment is particularly concentrated within a small fraction of the population. In other segments, individuals are insulated from most disturbances to their activities in the labor market. Some of them work almost continuously while others are nearly always out of the labor market. We develop a model that identifies and quantifies heterogeneity in dynamic individual behavior.

This research is joint with Marianna Kudlyak, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

About the speaker

Robert E. Hall is the Robert and Carole McNeil Joint Hoover Senior Fellow and Professor of Economics at Stanford University. He is an applied economist with interests in employment, technology, competition, and economic policy in the aggregate economy and in particular markets.

Professor Hall served as President of the American Economic Association for the year 2010. He presented the Ely Lecture to the Association in 2001 and served as Vice President in 2005. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Distinguished Fellow of the AEA, and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society, and the Society of Labor Economists.

Along with his Hoover Institution colleague Alvin Rabushka, Professor Hall developed a framework for equitable and efficient consumption taxation. Their article in the Wall Street Journal in December 1981 was the starting point for an upsurge of interest in consumption taxation. Their book, The Flat Tax (free download from the Hoover Institution Press), spells out the proposal. They were recognized in Money magazine’s Hall of Fame for their contributions to financial innovation.

Professor Hall also served as director of the research program on economic fluctuations and growth of the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1977 through 2013. He continues to serve as chairman of the Bureau's Committee on Business Cycle Dating, which maintains the semiofficial chronology of the U.S. business cycle.

He has advised a number of government agencies on national economic policy, including the Justice Department, the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve Board, and the Congressional Budget Office, where he serves on the Advisory Committee. He served on the National Presidential Advisory Committee on Productivity.

Before coming to Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the Department of Economics in 1978, he taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at the University of California, Berkeley. He was born in Palo Alto, attended school there and in Los Angeles, received his BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In a 1976 paper, he introduced the distinction between fresh-water and salt-water economists. Bloggers using these terms are asked to contribute $1 to a fund that sends graduate students to MIT for one year and to the University of Minnesota for a second year.

He is married to economist Susan Woodward, chairman of Sand Hill Econometrics, and lives in Menlo Park, California.

Learn more about Robert E. Hall's work



See also: Fall 2019