Research Discussion Paper – RDP 9305 The Unemployment/Vacancy Relationship in Australia


One of the most important features of the Australian economy in the past two decades has been the structural deterioration of labour market performance, reflected in both an increase in the average rate of unemployment and an outward shift in the Beveridge Curve, which depicts the relationship between unemployment and vacancies. This paper attempts to uncover some of the causes for this structural deterioration, in terms of the factors affecting the UV relationship.

We find that the Beveridge Curve shifted out around 1974, consistent with an increase in the equilibrium rate of unemployment which is generally agreed to have occurred around that time. Using gross labour market flow data, we also investigate the determinants of the equilibrium Beveridge Curve in the 1980s. We find that the Beveridge Curve shifted further outwards in the 1980s. The most important determinant of this shift was the decline in the search effectiveness of the unemployed, reflected in the increasing incidence of long-term unemployment. Offsetting this influence during this time was the declining labour force participation of men, and the very large increases in female employment.

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