In this work we develop an agent-based model where hysteresis in major macroeconomic variables (e.g., gross domestic product, productivity, unemployment) emerges out of the decentralized interactions of heterogeneous firms and workers. Building upon the “Schumpeter meeting Keynes” family of models (cf. in particular Dosi et al. (2016b, 2017c)), we specify an endogenous process of accumulation of workers’ skills and a state-dependent process of firms entry. Indeed, hysteresis is ubiquitous. However, this is not due to market imperfections, but rather to the very functioning of decentralized economies characterized by coordination externalities and dynamic increasing returns. So, contrary to the insider–outsider hypothesis (Blanchard and Summers, 1986), the model does not support the findings that rigid industrial relations may foster hysteretic behavior in aggregate unemployment. On the contrary, this contribution provides evidence that during severe downturns, and thus declining aggregate demand, phenomena like decreasing investment and innovation rates, skills deterioration, and declining entry dynamics are better candidates to explain long-run unemployment spells and reduced output growth. In that, more rigid labor markets may well dampen hysteretic dynamics by sustaining aggregate demand, thus making the economy more resilient.
- Hysteresis, Aggregate Demand, Multiple Equilibria, Skills Deterioration, Market Entry, Agent-Based Models