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Career effects of occupation-related vocational education: Evidence from the military's internal labor market


  • Pema, Elda
  • Mehay, Stephen


Prior research on the labor market success of secondary vocational education has produced mixed results, with several studies finding wage gains only for individuals who work in training-related occupations. We contribute to this debate by focusing on a single occupation and organization and by comparing the careers of employees with and without occupation-related training in high school. We use longitudinal data on the careers of military recruits who completed high school Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), a military science program that has features of a vocational training and school-to-work program. We find that the occupation-specific training received via JROTC reduces early turnover and improves long-run job stability for those who choose military jobs, suggesting that an important effect of vocational training is to improve job match quality. We also find that promotion rates for vocational graduates are similar to their peers, suggesting that vocational education in general works by improving occupational sorting.

Suggested Citation

  • Pema, Elda & Mehay, Stephen, 2012. "Career effects of occupation-related vocational education: Evidence from the military's internal labor market," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 680-693.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:31:y:2012:i:5:p:680-693 DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2012.04.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Meer, Jonathan, 2007. "Evidence on the returns to secondary vocational education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 559-573, October.
    2. Elda Pema & Stephen Mehay, 2009. "The Effect of High School JROTC on Student Achievement, Educational Attainment, and Enlistment," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 533-552, October.
    3. Bishop, John H. & Mane, Ferran, 2004. "The impacts of career-technical education on high school labor market success," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 381-402, August.
    4. Neumark, David & Rothstein, Donna, 2006. "School-to-career programs and transitions to employment and higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 374-393, August.
    5. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-990, October.
    6. Neuman, Shoshana & Ziderman, Adrian, 1991. "Vocational schooling, occupational matching, and labor market earnings in Israel," Policy Research Working Paper Series 683, The World Bank.
    7. Bishop, John, 1989. "Occupational training in high school: When does it pay off?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 1-15, February.
    8. Lawrence Hotchkiss, 1993. "Effects of Training, Occupation, and Training-Occupation Match on Wage," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(3), pages 482-496.
    9. Elda Pema & Stephen Mehay, 2010. "The Impact Of The High School Junior Rotc Program: Does Treatment Timing And Intensity Matter?," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(3), pages 229-247.
    10. Asch, Beth J. & Hosek, James R. & Warner, John T., 2007. "New Economics of Manpower in the Post-Cold War Era," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
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    12. Neumann, George & Olitsky, Neal & Robbins, Steve, 2009. "Job congruence, academic achievement, and earnings," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 503-509, October.
    13. Shoshana Neuman & Adrian Ziderman, 1991. "Vocational Schooling, Occupational Matching, and Labor Market Earnings in Israel," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(2), pages 256-281.
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    Cited by:

    1. Picchio, Matteo & van Ours, Jan C., 2013. "Retaining through training even for older workers," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 29-48.
    2. Torun, Huzeyfe & Tumen, Semih, 2017. "Do Vocational High School Graduates Have Better Employment Outcomes than General High School Graduates?," IZA Discussion Papers 10507, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Vocational education; Turnover; Promotion; Internal labor markets;

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Training


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