Okun's Law


DEFINITION of 'Okun's Law'

The relationship between an economy's unemployment rate and its gross national product (GNP). Twentieth-century economist Arthur Okun developed this idea, which states that when unemployment falls by 1%, GNP rises by 3%. However, the law only holds true for the U.S. economy, and only applies when the unemployment rate falls between 3-7.5%. Other version of Okun's Law focus on a relationship between unemployment and GDP, whereby a percentage increase in unemployment causes a 2% fall in GDP.


The percentage by which GNP changes when unemployment changes by 1% is called the "Okun coefficient". Industrialized nations with labor markets that are less flexible than those of the United States, such as France and Germany, tend to have higher Okun coefficients. In those countries, the same percentage change in GNP has a smaller effect on the unemployment rate than it does in the United States.

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