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The Role of Comparative Advantage and Learning in Wage Dynamics and Intrafirm Mobility: Evidence from Germany

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  • Stéphanie Lluis

    (Economics Department, Université de Montréal)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the dynamics of wages and workers' mobility within firms with a hierarchical structure of job levels. The theoretical model proposed by Gibbons and Waldman (1999), that combines the notions of human capital accumulation, job rank assignments based on comparative advantage and learning about workers' abilities, is implemented empirically to measure the importance of these elements in explaining the wage policy of firms. Survey data from the GSOEP (German Socio-Economic Panel) are used to draw conclusions on the common features characterizing the wage policy of firms from a large sample of firms. The GSOEP survey also provides information on the worker's rank within his firm which is usually not available in other surveys. The results are consistent with non-random selection of workers onto the rungs of a job ladder. There is no direct evidence of learning about workers' unobserved abilities but the analysis reveals that unmeasured ability is an important factor driving wage dynamics. Finally, job rank effects remain significant even after controlling for measured and unmeasured characteristics.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by International Conferences on Panel Data in its series 10th International Conference on Panel Data, Berlin, July 5-6, 2002 with number C2-3.

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Date of creation: Mar 2002
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Handle: RePEc:cpd:pd2002:c2-3

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Related research

Keywords: Wage dynamics; intra-firm mobility; human capital accumulation; unobserved heterogeneity; learning;

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  1. Henry S. Farber & Robert Gibbons, 1994. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," Working Papers 707, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1996. "Does Inflation "Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market"?," NBER Working Papers 5538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Salanie & Julie Valentin, 1999. "Early Starters versus Late Beginners," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 731-760, August.
  10. Baker, Michael, 1997. "Growth-Rate Heterogeneity and the Covariance Structure of Life-Cycle Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 338-75, April.
  11. Joseph G. Altonji & Lewis M. Segal, 1994. "Small Sample Bias in GMM Estimation of Covariance Structures," NBER Technical Working Papers 0156, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hashimoto, Masanori, 1981. "Firm-Specific Human Capital as a Shared Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 475-82, June.
  13. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1994. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," CIRANO Working Papers 94s-23, CIRANO.
  14. Bauer, Thomas K. & Haisken-DeNew, John P., 2000. "Employer Learning and the Returns to Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 146, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Neal, Derek, 1999. "The Complexity of Job Mobility among Young Men," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 237-61, April.
  16. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Newey, Whitney & Rosen, Harvey S, 1988. "Estimating Vector Autoregressions with Panel Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1371-95, November.
  17. Ann P. Bartel & George J. Borjas, 1978. "Wage Growth and Job Turnover: An Empirical Analysis," NBER Working Papers 0285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Gary S. Becker, 1975. "Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education, 2nd ed," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck75-1, July.
  19. Parent, Daniel, 2002. "Matching, human capital, and the covariance structure of earnings," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 375-404, July.
  20. Gibbons, Robert & Katz, Lawrence F, 1992. "Does Unmeasured Ability Explain Inter-industry Wage Differentials?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(3), pages 515-35, July.
  21. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  22. Robert Gibbons, 1996. "Incentives and Careers in Organizations," NBER Working Papers 5705, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Lemieux, Thomas, 1998. "Estimating the Effects of Unions on Wage Inequality in a Panel Data Model with Comparative Advantage and Nonrandom Selection," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 261-91, April.
  24. Harris, Milton & Holstrom, Bengt, 1982. "A Theory of Wage Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(3), pages 315-33, July.
  25. Murphy, Kevin J., 1985. "Corporate performance and managerial remuneration : An empirical analysis," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 11-42, April.
  26. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Krueger, Alan B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Efficiency Wages and the Inter-industry Wage Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(2), pages 259-93, March.
  28. Edward P. Lazear, 2001. "The Peter Principle: Promotions and Declining Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8094, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence F. Katz & Thomas Lemieux & Daniel Parent, 2005. "Comparative Advantage, Learning, and Sectoral Wage Determination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 681-724, October.
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