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Duration Dependence and Labor Market Conditions: Evidence from a Field Experiment


  • Kory Kroft
  • Fabian Lange
  • Matthew J. Notowidigdo


This article studies the role of employer behavior in generating "negative duration dependence"--the adverse effect of a longer unemployment spell--by sending fictitious résumés to real job postings in 100 U.S. cities. Our results indicate that the likelihood of receiving a callback for an interview significantly decreases with the length of a worker's unemployment spell, with the majority of this decline occurring during the first eight months. We explore how this effect varies with local labor market conditions and find that duration dependence is stronger when the local labor market is tighter. This result is consistent with the prediction of a broad class of screening models in which employers use the unemployment spell length as a signal of unobserved productivity and recognize that this signal is less informative in weak labor markets. JEL Code: J64. Copyright 2013, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Kory Kroft & Fabian Lange & Matthew J. Notowidigdo, 2013. "Duration Dependence and Labor Market Conditions: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(3), pages 1123-1167.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:128:y:2013:i:3:p:1123-1167

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Giovanni Maggi, 1999. "The Role of Multilateral Institutions in International Trade Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 190-214, March.
    2. Glenn Ellison, 1994. "Cooperation in the Prisoner's Dilemma with Anonymous Random Matching," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 567-588.
    3. Wolitzky, Alexander, 2015. "Communication with tokens in repeated games on networks," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 10(1), January.
    4. Daniel P. Kessler, 2011. "Evaluating the Medical Malpractice System and Options for Reform," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 93-110, Spring.
    5. Hugo A. Hopenhayn & Christine Hauser, 2004. "Trading favors: optimal exchange and forgiveness," 2004 Meeting Papers 125, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Michihiro Kandori, 1992. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 59(1), pages 63-80.
    7. Krishna, Vijay & Morgan, John, 2004. "The art of conversation: eliciting information from experts through multi-stage communication," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 117(2), pages 147-179, August.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search


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