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Tenure and Output

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  • Kathryn Shaw
  • Edward P. Lazear

Abstract

A key tenet of the theory of human capital is that investment in skills results in higher productivity. The previous literature has estimated the degree of investment in human capital for individuals by looking at individual wage growth as a proxy for productivity growth. In this paper, we have both wage and personal productivity data, and thus are able to measure of the increase in workers' output with tenure. The data is from an autoglass company. Most of production occurs at the individual level so measures of output are clear. We find a very steep learning curve in the year on the job: output is 53 percent higher after one year than it is initially when hired. These output gains with tenure are not reflected in equal percentage pay gains: pay profiles are much flatter than output profiles in the first year and a half on the job. For these data, using wage profiles significantly underestimates the amount of investment compared to the gains evident in output-tenure profiles. The pattern of productivity rising more rapidly than pay reverses after two years of tenure. Worker selection is also important. Workers who stay longer have higher output levels and faster early learning.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13652.

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Date of creation: Nov 2007
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13652

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References

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  1. Neal, Derek, 1995. "Industry-Specific Human Capital: Evidence from Displaced Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(4), pages 653-77, October.
  2. Katharine G. Abraham & Henry S. Farber, 1986. "Job Duration, Seniority and Earnings," Working papers 407, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 145-76, February.
  4. Judith K. Hellerstein & David Neumark, 2004. "Production Function and Wage Equation Estimation with Heterogeneous Labor: Evidence from a New Matched Employer-Employee Data Set," NBER Working Papers 10325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hellerstein, Judith K & Neumark, David & Troske, Kenneth R, 1999. "Wages, Productivity, and Worker Characteristics: Evidence from Plant-Level Production Functions and Wage Equations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(3), pages 409-46, July.
  6. Walter Y. Oi, 1962. "Labor as a Quasi-Fixed Factor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 538.
  7. Robert Gibbons & Michael Waldman, 2004. "Task-Specific Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 203-207, May.
  8. Kathryn L. Shaw, 1984. "A Formulation of the Earnings Function Using the Concept of Occupational Investment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 319-340.
  9. Hellerstein, Judith K & Neumark, David, 1999. "Sex, Wages, and Productivity: An Empirical Analysis of Israeli Firm-Level Data," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(1), pages 95-123, February.
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  11. Hutchens, Robert M, 1989. "Seniority, Wages and Productivity: A Turbulent Decade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 49-64, Fall.
  12. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
  13. Edward P. Lazear, 2003. "Firm-Specific Human Capital: A Skill-Weights Approach," NBER Working Papers 9679, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Joseph Altonji & R. Shakotko, 1985. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority?," Working Papers 567, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  15. Lazear, Edward, 2003. "Firm-Specific Human Capital: A Skill-Weights Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 813, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. C. Lanier Benkard, 2000. "Learning and Forgetting: The Dynamics of Aircraft Production," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
  17. Joseph G. Altonji & Nicolas Williams, 1997. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority? A Reassessment," NBER Working Papers 6010, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Linda Argote & Sara L. Beckman & Dennis Epple, 1990. "The Persistence and Transfer of Learning in Industrial Settings," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(2), pages 140-154, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Nakabayashi, Masaki, 2011. "Schooling, employer learning, and internal labor market effect: Wage dynamics and human capital investment in the Japanese steel industry, 1930-1960s," MPRA Paper 30597, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Christian Pfeifer, 2009. "Adjustment of Deferred Compensation Schemes, Fairness Concerns, and Hiring of Older Workers," Working Paper Series in Economics 151, University of Lüneburg, Institute of Economics.
  3. Irarrazabal, Alfonso & Moxnes, Andreas & Ulltveit-Moe, Karen-Helene, 2009. "Heterogeneous firms or heterogeneous workers? Implications for the exporter premium and the impact of labor reallocation on productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 7577, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. repec:dgr:umaror:2011014 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Pfeifer, Christian, 2009. "An Intra-Firm Perspective on Wage Profiles and Employment of Older Workers with Special Reference to Human Capital and Deferred Compensation," Diskussionspapiere der Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Leibniz Universität Hannover dp-413, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  6. repec:dgr:umamet:2011052 is not listed on IDEAS

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