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Learning by Doing vs. Learning About Match Quality: Can We Tell Them Apart?


  • Éva Nagypál


Understanding the accumulation of match-specific capital is crucial in shedding light on the reasons for the prevalence of long-term employment relationships and on the welfare consequences of turnover in the labour market. One of the most important sources of match-specific capital is human capital acquired through match-specific learning. Such learning can take on two distinct forms. In the first case, workers accumulate match-specific human capital through learning by doing. In the second case, a worker and a firm in an employment relationship learn about the quality of the match over time, thereby acquiring valuable information. I construct a structural model that embeds these two learning explanations and show that it is possible to distinguish the two by using turnover data on employing firms coupled with data on workers. I use a French matched employer—employee data-set to estimate the structural model using the Efficient Method of Moments, a simulation-based estimation method. I find that, while learning by doing may be present during the first six months of an employment relationship, learning about match quality dominates at longer tenures. This finding has important consequences for the understanding of the sources of match-specific capital and for the desirability of policies that alter the incentives for turnover for workers of different tenure. Copyright 2007, Wiley-Blackwell.

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  • Éva Nagypál, 2007. "Learning by Doing vs. Learning About Match Quality: Can We Tell Them Apart?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 537-566.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:74:y:2007:i:2:p:537-566

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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Dustmann & Albrecht Glitz & Uta Schönberg & Herbert Brücker, 2016. "Referral-based Job Search Networks," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(2), pages 514-546.
    2. C. Kirabo Jackson, 2013. "Match Quality, Worker Productivity, and Worker Mobility: Direct Evidence from Teachers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1096-1116, October.
    3. Manolis Galenianos, 2013. "Learning About Match Quality and the Use of Referrals," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(4), pages 668-690, October.
    4. Joseph G. Altonji & Anthony A. Smith Jr. & Ivan Vidangos, 2013. "Modeling Earnings Dynamics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(4), pages 1395-1454, July.
    5. Matthew T. Johnson, 2010. "Borrowing Constraints, College Enrollment, and Delayed Entry," Working Papers 2011-006, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group, revised Sep 2012.
    6. Garloff Alfred & Kuckulenz Anja, 2006. "Training, Mobility, and Wages: Specific Versus General Human Capital," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 226(1), pages 55-81, February.
    7. Murat Tasci, 2006. "On-the-Job Search and Labor Market Reallocation," 2006 Meeting Papers 333, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Nicolas L. Jacquet, 2007. "Inefficient Worker Turnover," Labor Economics Working Papers 22450, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    9. Steinar Holden & Åsa Rosén, 2014. "Discrimination And Employment Protection," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(6), pages 1676-1699, December.
    10. Simon D Woodcock, 2002. "Modeling Labor Markets with Heterogeneous Agents and Matches," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-19, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    11. Simon D Woodcock, 2002. "Agent Heterogeneity and Learning: An Application to Labor Markets," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-20, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    12. Anne BUCHER, 2011. "Youth Labor Market Outcomes: A Model with Learning on Match Quality," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2011027, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    13. Dube, Arindrajit & Lester, T. William & Reich, Michael, 2013. "Minimum Wage Shocks, Employment Flows and Labor Market Frictions," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt27z0006g, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.

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