Inflation vs. labor force: cointegration test for France

This post continues the series devoted to tests for cointegration between inflation and the change rate of labor force. In France, inflation lags by four years behind the change in labor force. This is a lenthy delay. Despite this delay, both variables are cointegrated, i.e. there exists a long-term equilibrium relation between them. Because of the lag one can assume this link to be a causal one. The presence of cointegrating relation allows all statistical estimates, including regression analysis. For the obtained cointegrating relation, Rsq. is around 0.9.

All in all, the example of France supports the previously presented results for the USA.

RePEc working paper:


AbstractA linear and lagged relationship between inflation, unemployment and labor force change rate, π(t)=A0UE(t-t0)+A1dLF(t-t1)/LF(t-t1)+A2 (where A0, A1, and A2 are empirical country-specific coefficients), was found for developed economies. The relationship obtained for France is characterized by A0=-1, A1=4, A2=0.095, t0=4 years, and t1=4 years. For GDP deflator, it provides a root mean square forecasting error (RMFSE) of 1.0% at a four-year horizon for the period between 1971 and 2004.
The relationship is tested for cointegration. All three variables involved in the relationship are proved to be integrated of order one. Two methods of cointegration testing are used. First is the Engle-Granger approach based on the unit root test in the residuals of linear regression, which also includes a number of specification tests. Second method is the Johansen cointegration rank test based on a VAR representation, which is also proved to be an adequate one via a set of appropriate tests. Both approaches demonstrate that the variables are cointegrated and the long-run equilibrium relation revealed in previous study holds together with statistical estimates of goodness-of-fit and RMSFE.
Relationships between inflation and labor force and between unemployment and labor force are tested separately in appropriate time intervals, where the Banque de France monetary policy introduced in 1995 does not disturb the long-term links. All the individual relationships are cointegrated in corresponding intervals.
The VAR and vector error correction (VEC) models are estimated and provide just a marginal improvement in RMSFE at the four-year horizon both for GDP deflator (down to 0.9%) and CPI (~1.1%) on the results obtained in the regression study. The VECM approach also allows re-estimation of the coefficients in the individual and generalized relationship between the variables both for cointegration rank 1 and 2.
Comparison of the standard cointegration approach to the integral approach to the estimation of the coefficients in the individual and generalized relationships between the studied variables demonstrates the superiority of the latter. The cumulative inflation curve or inflation index, which is the actually measured evolution of price level, is much better predicted in the framework of the integral approach, which is a powerful tool for revealing true relationships between non-stationary variables and can be potentially used for rejection of spurious regression. The cumulative curves allow avoiding obvious drawbacks of the VECM representation and cointegration tests – increasing signal to noise ratio after differentiation and severe dependence on statistical properties of error terms.
The confirmed validity of the linear lagged relationship between inflation, unemployment and labor force change indicates that since 1995 the Banque de France has been wrongly applying the policy fixing the monetary growth to the reference value around 4.5%. As a result of the policy, during the last ten years unemployment in France was twice as large as the one dictated by its long-term equilibrium link to labor force change. This increased unemployment compensates the forced price stability.

JEL Classification: C32, E3, E6, J21
Key words: cointegration, inflation, unemployment, labor force, forecasting, France, VAR, VECM

One figure from the paper:
Figure . Comparison of measured inflation (GDP defaltor)and that predicted from the change in labor force for years before.

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