Research Discussion Paper – RDP 2005-08 Declining Output Volatility: What Role for Structural Change? Abstract

The decline in output volatility in a number of countries over the past few decades has been well-documented, though less agreement has been reached about the causes of this decline. In this paper, we use a panel of data from 20 OECD countries to see if there is a role for various indicators of structural reform in explaining the general decline in output volatility. We suggest that reforms in product and labour markets can reduce volatility of aggregate output by encouraging productive resources to shift more readily in response to differential shocks across firms and sectors.

In contrast to other studies, we include direct measures of product market regulations and monetary policy regimes as indicators of structural reform. We find that less product market regulation and stricter monetary policy regimes have played a role in reducing output volatility. Our estimates are reasonably robust to a number of alternative specifications, including those that attempt to control for a possible trend in common (unexplained) innovations to output volatility such as a possible decline in the magnitude of global shocks.

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