Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The paper examines the impact of demographic changes on the rate of unemployment in Canada. The central question asked is whether the increase in the number of young people in the population during the 1970s put upward pressure on the overall unemployment-rate. It was expected to have done so because (i) a greater fraction of the labour-force would now fall within an unemployment-prone age-category, and (ii) in the absence of sufficient wage flexibility, a shift in the supply curve of a particular type of labour (defined by age) would generate unemployment in that age-group (this is the so-called cohort-crowding hypothesis). Through these two channels (termed, respectively, the weights and rates effects), and also by influencing participation-rates, changes in the age-composition of the population were predicted to alter the overall unemployment-rate. The theoretical rationale for this prediction is extensively reviewed.;The empirical analysis uses Canadian labour-force data covering 1953-78. The weights effect was estimated by statistical decomposition of changes in the unemployment-rate. To estimate the rates effect, multiple regression techniques were employed. Eight equations were estimated, each 'explaining' the unemployment-rate of a specific demographic group, defined by age and sex. Amongst the indepedent variables was the proportion of the adult population which fell within the particular demographic category. The performance of this variable was used to test the cohort-crowding hypothesis and to make estimates of the impact of a group's relative size on its group-specific (and thereby on the overall) rate of unemployment.;The results of the empirical analysis indicate that the increase in the number of young people in Canada had only a small effect on the overall unemployment-rate but a major effect on the structure of unemployment. Youth unemployment increased as a result of the entry into the labour-force of the baby-boom cohorts; older male workers experienced a fall in unemployment.;A less detailed empirical analysis is presented for the United States. The results are broadly similar to those for Canada.



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