Chapter 5 Measuring Economic Activity: GDP and Unemployment

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1 Chapter 5 Measuring Economic Activity: GDP and Unemployment Overview This chapter looks in detail at how economists measure two major macroeconomic variables: gross domestic product (GDP) and the unemployment rate. The chapter shows how GDP can be measured either through the expenditure approach or the income approach, and discusses the difference between nominal and real GDP. The limitations of GDP are considered, but the chapter also shows how GDP is related to economic well-being. The chapter then shows how unemployment is measured, considers the costs of unemployment, and discusses what is left out of the official unemployment rate. Core Principles The Cost-Benefit Principle: The chapter discusses using the cost-benefit principle as a way to determine the appropriateness of economic policies. Important Concepts Covered Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Final Goods or Services Intermediate Goods or Services Value Added Capital Good Consumption Private-Sector Investment Government Purchases Net Exports Capital Consumption Allowances Real GDP Nominal GDP GDP Deflator Gross National Income Labour Force Unemployment Rate Participation Rate Discouraged Workers Learning Objectives 5.1 Gross Domestic Product: Measuring the Nation s Output Market Value Final Goods and Services Produced Within a Country During a Given Period 5.2 The Expenditure Method for Measuring GDP 5.3 GDP and the Incomes of Capital and Labour Economic Naturalist 5.1: Does GDP measurement ignore the underground economy? Copyright 2009 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited 1

2 5.4 Nominal GDP versus Real GDP 5.5 Real GDP is Inappropriate as the Sole Economic Goal The GDP Total and the Benefits of Final Goods and Services Questionable Proposals for Increasing GDP 5.6 But Real GDP Per Capita is Related to Living Standards Availability of Goods and Services Health and Education Why Not Make GDP Per Capita Into a Measure of Well-Being? 5.7 The Unemployment Rate Measuring Unemployment The Costs of Unemployment Supplementary Measures of Unemployment In-Class Activities Unemployment, Inflation, and National Output video from the Introductory Economics series. U.S. Economic Growth video from the Economics U$A series. Michael J. Haupert, Labor Market Experiment, Journal of Economic Education, 27(4), Fall 1996a, pp Economic Naturalist Discussion Questions 1. Why might firms recruit retirees to leave retirement and work for them? (If unemployment rates become sufficiently low, particularly in certain areas, that firms can t find enough qualified workers in the labour force.) 2. Why do female children receive less schooling than male children in some poor countries? (Because the returns are lower and the opportunity costs are higher in societies where women work at home and have fewer options in the labour market.) 3. Why might unemployment rates begin to fall during a severe recession, despite the fact that no new jobs are created? (Discouraged workers leave the labour force.) Answers to Text Questions and Problems Answers to Review Questions 1. Using market values permits economists to add together different goods and services to get a measure of total output. For example, we can t add together apples, bananas, and shoes, but we can add together their market values. Using market values to aggregate gives a higher weight to high-value items. For example, a $20,000 automobile counts for 5000 times as much in GDP as a $4 double cheeseburger. This makes economic sense, as the market price of each item is a measure of the value that its purchasers place on it. 2. Consumption: any consumer good or service (an automobile or a haircut, for example). Investment: purchase of a factory, a machine, a home, or other form of capital. Government purchases: goods or services acquired by the government, such as military hardware or the services of public-school teachers. Net exports: exports less imports, for example, Canadian-grown wheat purchased by India (an export) or Copyright 2009 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited 2

3 a German car purchased by a Canadian citizen (an import). Consumption represents the largest share of GDP of the four components. Net exports can be negative, if imports exceed exports. 3. Nominal GDP, the current market value of production, equals 1000 shines $4 per shine, or $4000 last year, and 1200 shines $5 per shine, or $6000 this year. Real GDP is the market value of production measured using the prices of the base year. So real GDP last year is 1000 shines $4 per shine or $4000. (Remember that last year is the base year; real GDP and nominal GDP are the same in the base year). Real GDP this year, equal to this year s output valued at last year s prices, is 1200 shines $4 per shine, or $4800. Notice that Al s contribution to real GDP has grown by 20% since last year ($4800/$4000 = 1.20), which is the same as the increase in the physical volume of his output (1200 shines/1000 shines = 1.20). Real GDP is the better statistic to use when measuring Al s change in productivity, since it eliminates the effects of price changes and measures instead the physical volume of production. 4. Maximization of real GDP is inappropriate as a sole goal for economic policy because it does not consider non-working time, environmental quality and resource depletion, and the quality of daily life and working life. 5. False. The participation rate is the labour force (the sum of employed and unemployed workers) as a share of the adult population. Essentially it measures the fraction of the adult population who are either working or who are looking for work. It is possible for the participation rate to be high, even though many people in the labour force are currently unemployed. Answers to Problems 1a. Government purchase of a service; GDP increases by $1 billion. b. Transfer payment; GDP does not change. c. Government purchase of a good; GDP increases by $1 billion. d. Government interest payment; GDP does not change. e. Government purchase of goods of $1 billion is exactly offset by net exports of $1 billion (the aircraft are imported); GDP does not change. This makes sense, since no additional production occurred within Canada. 2. Value added by each firm is as follows: Intelligence Inc.: 100 chips $200 = $20,000. Macrosoft: 100 software packages $50 = $5000. Bell: 100 computers $800 minus purchased inputs ($20,000 in chips and $5000 in software) = $80,000 $25,000 = $55,000. PC Charlie s: 100 computers $1000 minus purchased inputs ($80,000 in computers at wholesale) = $100,000 $80,000 = $20,000. Sum of value added: $20,000 + $ $55,000 + $20,000 = $100,000. This is the same result we get by summing up the market values of final goods and services (the 100 computers sold by PC Charlie s at $1000 each equals $100,000). 3a. Canadian GDP and consumption both rise by the value of the new car. b. Consumption rises by the value of the car, net exports fall by the value of the car (as imports rise). There is no change in Canadian GDP. c. Canadian GDP and investment both rise by the value of the car (purchase of the car by a business counts as investment). d. Investment rises by the value of the car, net exports fall by the value of the car. There is no change in Canadian GDP. Copyright 2009 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited 3

4 4. We find the four components of expenditure: Consumption expenditures are 600. These already include household purchases of durable goods, so those would not be counted again. Investment expenditures equal construction of new homes and apartments (100) plus business fixed investment (100) plus inventory investment (change in stocks over the year, or 25), for a total of 225. Sales of existing homes and apartments are not counted in investment or GDP. Government purchases are 200. Government payments to retirees are transfers and are not counted. Net exports are exports (75) minus imports (50), or 25. GDP is the sum of the four components: = For the year 2004, nominal GDP is (100 $5) + (300 $20) + (100 $20) = $8500, and real GDP (using prices from 2004) is (100 $5) + (300 $20) + (100 $20) = $8500. Notice that nominal GDP and real GDP are the same for the base year. For the year 2009, nominal GDP is (125 $7) + (250 $20) + (110 $25) = $8625, and real GDP (using prices from 2004) is (125 $5) + (250 $20) + (110 $20) = $7825. Real GDP therefore declined between 2004 and Real GDP for the fourth quarter of 1998 would be nominal GDP ($928.3 billion) divided by the GDP deflator (99.1), or $936.7 billion. When the GDP deflator falls, real GDP can exceed nominal GDP. 7. It would not be correct to decide against the policy because it is projected to reduce real GDP. Rather, the costs and benefits of the policy should be compared. The reduction (if any) in real GDP is relevant when measuring the cost of the proposed policy, as it captures the loss in output. However, the benefits of the policy, in terms of cleaner air, are not captured in GDP and must be assessed in some other way (for example, by trying to value the health benefits of cleaner air). Economists would recommend implementing the policy only if its benefits exceed its costs. 8. Of the 65 people, the 10 children under age fifteen, the 10 retired people, the 5 full-time homemakers, the 5 full-time students, and the 2 ill people are not in the labour force. Of the remaining 33 people, 30 people are employed (either part-time or full-time). So three people do not have jobs but would like one. However, one of these three people has not looked for work for three months and so is counted as not in the labour force rather than unemployed; the other two people are unemployed. In summary, of 65 people, 33 are not in the labour force. So the labour force is 32 people. The participation rate is the share of the working age population in the labour force, equal to 32/55 = 58%. Of those in the labour force, 30 are employed, 2 are unemployed. The unemployment rate, the share of the labour force that is unemployed, is 2/32, or 6.25%. 9. As the participation rate is 62.5%, we know that 62.5% of the working-age population is in the labour force and the remaining 37.5% is not in the labour force. Sixty million people are not in the labour force, so the total working-age population must be 160 million (60 million is 37.5% of 160 million). The labour force is 62.5% of 160 million, or 100 million people. The unemployment rate is 5.0%, so 5.0% of the 100 million people in the labour force are unemployed, or 5 million people. To summarize, the labour force is 100 million, the working age population is 160 million, and 5 million workers are unemployed. Sample Homework Assignment 1. Determine whether each of the following would or would not be included in the calculation of the current year s GDP. If it should not be included, explain why. a. The purchase of a 2002 Chrysler Caravan manufactured in Ontario. b. A purchase of a share of Nortel stock. Copyright 2009 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited 4

5 c. Coffee beans purchased by Tim Hortons. d. A dry cleaning bill. e. The money you saved by doing your own laundry rather than using a dry cleaning service. f. $25 paid to a neighbourhood kid to mow your lawn. g. $25 if you mow your lawn yourself. h. Money used to purchase marijuana. 2. Suppose that, in the country Beta, the population is 1 million of which 150,000 are under the age of 15, the labour force is 600,000, and the number employed is 570,000. Calculate: a. the unemployment rate. b. the participation rate. 3. Using the following data for the country Beta, calculate Beta s GDP. Explain why each item is or is not included in GDP. a. Consumption expenditures 1000 b. Exports 125 c. Government purchases of goods and services 300 d. Construction of new homes and apartments 125 e. Sales of existing homes and apartments 320 f. Imports 90 g. Beginning-of-year inventory stocks 140 h. End-of-year inventory stocks 160 i. Business fixed investments 250 j. Government payments to retirees 160 k. Household purchases of durable goods 265 Multiple Choice Quiz 1. Gross domestic product is a measure of a. output. b. input. c. prices. d. employment. e. interest rates. 2. Canadian gross domestic product is measured in a. units. b. dollars. c. workers. d. percentages. e. euros. 3. The value of the flour used to make a loaf of bread is not included in GDP because it is not a(n) a. capital good. b. service. c. intermediate good. d. final good. e. market good. 4. A good that is used to produce other goods is known as a(n) Copyright 2009 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited 5

6 a. capital good. b. final good. c. intermediate good. d. value added good. e. economic good. 5. Which of the following is not one of the components added together to measure GDP using the expenditure approach? a. Consumption. b. Investment. c. Government purchases. d. Capital. e. Net exports. 6. GDP that has been adjusted for inflation is called a. nominal GDP. b. real GDP. c. money GDP. d. market GDP. e. dollar GDP. 7. Which of the following individuals is classified as part of the labour force? a. A high school teacher enjoying the summer off. b. A 14-year-old with a paper route. c. A retired computer analyst. d. A full-time university student. e. A government employee. 8. The unemployment rate is found by dividing the number of people classified as unemployed by the a. population. b. labour force. c. number of people who are employed. d. number of people out of the labour force. e. participation rate. 9. If an individual would like to have a job, but has given up looking for one, she is classified as a. discouraged. b. unemployed. c. in the labour force. d. disgruntled. e. unproductive. 10. Which of the following is not a type of cost associated with unemployment? a. Economic. b. Social. c. Psychological. d. Shoe leather. e. Opportunity. Copyright 2009 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited 6

7 Short Answer/Problems 1. Classify each of the following individuals as employed, unemployed, or not in the labour force. a. A factory worker laid off indefinitely during a recession. b. A computer technician on vacation. c. A 14-year-old apple picker during the apple harvest. d. A banker who quits his job to (unsuccessfully) seek fame and fortune as an actor. e. A stay-at-home dad. f. A full-time university student. g. A recent university graduate looking for her first job. h. An auto mechanic without a job who has given up looking for work. 2. Suppose that, in the country Beta, the number unemployed is 8000, the number employed is 15,000, and the population is 45,000. Calculate: a. the size of the labour force. b. the participation rate. c. the unemployment rate. Answer Key to Extra Questions in Instructor s Manual Sample Homework Assignment 1a. No; it was produced in 2002, not the current year. b. No; stock represents ownership, not production. c. No; they are an intermediate good. d. Yes. e. No; there was no market transaction. f. Yes. g. No; there was no market transaction. h. No; illegal production is not included in GDP calculations. 2a. Unemployment rate = 30,000/1,000,000 = 0.03 or 3%. b. Participation rate = 600,000/850,000 = 0.71 or 71%. 3. GDP = C + I + G + NX. a. Included as part of C. b. Included as part of NX. c. Included as part of G. d. Included as part of I. e. Not included, as it was not produced during the period. f. Included as part of NX. g. Included as part of calculating I. h. Included as part of calculating I. i. Included as part of I. j. Not included, as it was not a payment for a good or service. k. Included as part of C. GDP = ( ) + (250 + [ ] + 125) + (300) + (125 90) = = Copyright 2009 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited 7

8 Multiple Choice 1. a 2. b 3. d 4. a 5. d 6. b 7. e 8. b 9. a 10. d Problems/Short Answer 1a. Unemployed: not working, but seeking work. b. Employed: has a job. c. Not in the labour force: must be 16 to be in the labour force. d. Unemployed: not working and actively seeking work. e. Not in the labour force: not seeking work outside the home. f. Not in the labour force: not seeking work outside of school. g. Unemployed: not working and actively seeking work. h. Not in the labour force: discouraged. 2a. Labour force = 15, = 23,000. b. Participation rate = 23,000/45,000 = 0.51 or 51%. c. Unemployment rate = 8000/23,000 = 0.35 or 35%. Copyright 2009 McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited 8

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