The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Robert Topel
Reference work entry


The unemployed are individuals who are without work but who are actively seeking employment. The unemployment rate is the percentage of the labour force – the total number of people either working or seeking work – that is unemployed. The evidence suggests that the ‘natural rate’ of unemployment (or non-employment) is not a constant towards which the labour market converges; rather, it varies with labour market fundamentals.


Disability insurance Labour market institutions Layoffs Natural rate of unemployment Phillips curve Search models of unemployment Unemployment Unemployment insurance 

JEL Classifications

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Alchian, A. 1969. Information costs, pricing, and resource utilization. Western Economic Journal 7: 109–128.Google Scholar
  2. Autor, D.H., and Mark G. Duggan. 2003. The rise in the disability rolls and the decline in unemployment. Quarterly Journal of Economics 118: 157–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Autor, H., and Mark G. Duggan. 2006. The growth in the Social Security disability rolls: A fiscal crisis unfolding. Journal of Economic Perspectives 20 (3): 71–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Friedman, M. 1968. The role of monetary policy. American Economic Review 58: 1–17.Google Scholar
  5. Gronau, R. 1971. Information and frictional unemployment. American Economic Review 61: 290–301.Google Scholar
  6. Juhn, C., K.M. Murphy, and R.H. Topel. 1991. Why has the natural rate of unemployment increased over time? Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 1991 (1): 75–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Juhn, C., K.M. Murphy, and R.H. Topel. 2002. Current unemployment, historically contemplated. Brookings Papers on Economic Activity 2002 (1): 79–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Layard, R., S. Nickell, and R. Jackman. 1991. Unemployment: Macroeconomic performance and the labour market. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Ljungqvist, L., and T.J. Sargent. 1998. The European unemployment dilemma. Journal of Political Economy 106: 514–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lucas, R., and E. Prescott. 1974. Equilibrium search and unemployment. Journal of Economic Theory 4: 103–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. McCall, J. 1970. Economics of information and job search. Quarterly Journal of Economics 84: 113–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mortensen, D. 1970. A theory of wage and employment dynamics. In Microeconomic foundations of employment and inflation theory, ed. E.S. Phelps et al. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  13. Murphy, K.M., and R.H. Topel. 1987. The evolution of unemployment in the United States. In NBER macroeconomics annual 1987, ed. S. Fischer. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  14. Murphy, K.M., and R.H. Topel. 1997. Unemployment and nonemployment. American Economic Review 187: 295–300.Google Scholar
  15. Phelps, E.S. 1974. Economic policy and unemployment in the 1960s. The Public Interest 34(Winter), 30–46.Google Scholar
  16. Rogerson, R., R. Shimer, and R. Wright. 2005. Search-theoretic models of the labor market: A survey. Journal of Economic Literature 43: 959–988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Topel, R.H. 1993. What have we learned from empirical studies of unemployment and turnover? American Economic Review 83: 110–115.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Topel
    • 1
  1. 1.