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In the Right Place at the Wrong Time: The Role of Firms and Luck in Young Workers' Careers

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  • Stefan Bender
  • Till von Wachter

Abstract

We examine administrative data on young German workers and their employers to study the long-term effects of an early career job loss. To account for nonrandom sorting of workers into firms with different turnover rates and for selective job mobility, we use changes over time in firm- and age-specific labor demand as an instrument for displacement. We find that wage losses of young job losers are initially 15 percent, but drop to zero within five years. Only workers leaving very large establishments suffer persistent losses. A comparison of estimators implies that initial sorting, negative selection, and voluntary job mobility biases ordinary least squares estimates toward finding permanent negative effects of early displacements. (JEL J13, J23, J24, J62, J63, M53)

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Bender & Till von Wachter, 2006. "In the Right Place at the Wrong Time: The Role of Firms and Luck in Young Workers' Careers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1679-1705, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:5:p:1679-1705
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.96.5.1679
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • J65 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment Insurance; Severance Pay; Plant Closings

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