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The Short- and Long-Term Career Effects of Graduating in a Recession

Author

Listed:
  • Philip Oreopoulos
  • Till von Wachter
  • Andrew Heisz

Abstract

This paper analyzes the magnitude and sources of long-term earnings declines associated with graduating from college during a recession. Using a large longitudinal university-employer-employee dataset, we find that the cost of recessions for new graduates is substantial and unequal. Unlucky graduates suffer persistent earnings declines lasting ten years. They start to work for lower paying employers, and then partly recover through a gradual process of mobility toward better firms. We document that more advantaged graduates suffer less from graduating in recessions because they switch to better firms quickly, while earnings of less advantaged graduates can be permanently affected by cyclical downgrading. (JEL E32, I23, J22, J23, J31)

Suggested Citation

  • Philip Oreopoulos & Till von Wachter & Andrew Heisz, 2012. "The Short- and Long-Term Career Effects of Graduating in a Recession," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 1-29, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:1:p:1-29
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.4.1.1
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej/app/app/2009-0288_app.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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