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Does employer learning vary by schooling attainment? The answer depends on how career start dates are defined

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  • Light, Audrey
  • McGee, Andrew

Abstract

We demonstrate that empirical evidence of employer learning is sensitive to how we define the career start date and, in turn, measure cumulative work experience. Arcidiacono et al. (2010) find evidence of employer learning for high school graduates but not for college graduates, and conclude that high levels of schooling reveal true productivity. We show that their choice of start date—based on nonenrollment at survey interview dates and often triggered by school vacations—systematically overstates experience and biases learning estimates toward zero for college-educated workers. Using career start dates tied to a more systematic definition of school exit, we find that employer learning is equally evident for high school and college graduates.

Suggested Citation

  • Light, Audrey & McGee, Andrew, 2015. "Does employer learning vary by schooling attainment? The answer depends on how career start dates are defined," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 57-66.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:32:y:2015:i:c:p:57-66
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2014.12.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Light, Audrey, 1998. "Estimating Returns to Schooling: When Does the Career Begin?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 31-45, February.
    2. Patrick J. Bayer & Peter Arcidiacono & Aurel Hizmo, 2010. "Web Appendix: Beyond Signaling and Human Capital: Education and the Revelation of Ability," Working Papers 10-52, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    3. Audrey Light, 1995. "The Effects of Interrupted Schooling on Wages," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(3), pages 472-502.
    4. Alison L. Booth & Marco Francesconi & Jeff Frank, 2002. "Temporary Jobs: Stepping Stones Or Dead Ends?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages 189-213, June.
    5. Bauer, Thomas K. & Haisken-DeNew, John P., 2001. "Employer learning and the returns to schooling," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 161-180, May.
    6. V. Joseph Hotz & Lixin Colin Xu & Marta Tienda & Avner Ahituv, 2002. "Are There Returns To The Wages Of Young Men From Working While In School?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 221-236, May.
    7. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters,in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Michael, Robert T & Tuma, Nancy Brandon, 1984. "Youth Employment: Does Life Begin at 16?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(4), pages 464-476, October.
    9. Lang, Kevin & Siniver, Erez, 2011. "Why is an elite undergraduate education valuable? Evidence from Israel," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 767-777.
    10. Audrey Light & Andrew McGee, 2015. "Employer Learning and the “Importance” of Skills," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(1), pages 72-107.
    11. Joshua C. Pinkston, 2009. "A Model of Asymmetric Employer Learning with Testable Implications," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 367-394.
    12. Hani Mansour, 2012. "Does Employer Learning Vary by Occupation?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 415-444.
    13. Daniel Parent, 2006. "Work while in high school in Canada: its labour market and educational attainment effects," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1125-1150, November.
    14. Peter Arcidiacono & Patrick Bayer & Aurel Hizmo, 2010. "Beyond Signaling and Human Capital: Education and the Revelation of Ability," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 76-104, October.
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    18. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1.
    19. Light, Audrey, 2001. "In-School Work Experience and the Returns to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 65-93, January.
    20. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 2001. "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 313-350.
    21. Chuang, Hwei-Lin, 1997. "High school youths' dropout and re-enrollment behavior," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 171-186, April.
    22. Joshua C. Pinkston, 2006. "A Test of Screening Discrimination with Employer Learning," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 59(2), pages 267-284, January.
    23. Light, Audrey, 1995. "Hazard model estimates of the decision to reenroll in school," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 381-406, December.
    24. David Neumark, 2002. "Youth Labor Markets In The United States: Shopping Around Vs. Staying Put," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 462-482, August.
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    1. Audrey Light & Andrew McGee, 2015. "Employer Learning and the “Importance” of Skills," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(1), pages 72-107.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Employer learning; Schooling; Measurement;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • 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

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