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Tenure and output

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  • Shaw, Kathryn
  • Lazear, Edward P.

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 as evidence of the degree of learning on the job. 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 first eight months on the job: output is 53 percent higher after eight months than it is initially. Our data show that 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, although our evidence on this point is less reliable. Worker selection is also important. Workers who stay longer have higher output levels and faster early learning.

Suggested Citation

  • Shaw, Kathryn & Lazear, Edward P., 2008. "Tenure and output," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 704-723, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:15:y:2008:i:4:p:704-723
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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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. De Grip, Andries & Sauermann, Jan & Sieben, Inge, 2016. "The role of peers in estimating tenure-performance profiles: Evidence from personnel data," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 39-54.
    3. Edward P. Lazear & Kathryn L. Shaw & Christopher T. Stanton, 2015. "The Value of Bosses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(4), pages 823-861.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Merlino L.P. & Parrotta P. & Pozzoli D., 2014. "Gender differences in sorting," Research Memorandum 022, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).
    7. Edward P. Lazear & Kathryn L. Shaw & Christopher T. Stanton, 2014. "The Value of Bosses," CEP Discussion Papers dp1318, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    8. Assadi, Anahita & Lundin, Martin, 2015. "Tenure and street-level bureaucrats: how assessment tools are used at the frontline of the public sector," Working Paper Series 2015:19, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    9. repec:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:368-377 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Pfeifer, Christian, 2009. "An Intra-Firm Perspective on Wage Profiles and Employment of Older Workers with Special Reference to Human Capital and Deferred Compensation," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-413, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    11. Andries De Grip & Jan Sauermann, 2012. "The Effects of Training on Own and Co‐worker Productivity: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(560), pages 376-399, May.
    12. Enoch Hill & Kai Ding, 2016. "Cautious Hiring," 2016 Meeting Papers 291, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    13. Paul Hek & Daniel Vuuren, 2011. "Are older workers overpaid? A literature review," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(4), pages 436-460, August.
    14. Lazear, Edward P. & Shaw, Kathryn L., 2014. "The value of bosses," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60611, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    15. Smirnych, L. I. & Wörgötter, Andreas, 2016. "The importance of institutional and organizational characteristics for the use of fixed-term and agency work contracts in Russia," ECON WPS - Vienna University of Technology Working Papers in Economic Theory and Policy 09/2016, Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Mathematical Methods in Economics, Research Group Economics (ECON).
    16. Lazear, Edward P. & Shaw, Kathryn L. & Stanton, Christopher, 2014. "The value of bosses," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 59022, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. DeAngelo, Gregory & Owens, Emily G., 2017. "Learning the ropes: General experience, task-Specific experience, and the output of police officers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 368-377.
    18. Andries de Grip, 2015. "The importance of informal learning at work," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 162-162, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Productivity Age-earnings profile Tenure Firm specific skills;

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods

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