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Bias in Returns to Tenure When Firm Wages and Employment Comove: A Quantitative Assessment and Solution

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  • Andy Snell
  • Pedro Martins
  • Heiko Stüber
  • Jonathan P. Thomas

Abstract

It is well known that unless worker-firm match quality is controlled for, reduced-form estimates of returns to firm tenure will be biased. In this paper, we show that there is a further pervasive source of bias, namely, the comovement of firm employment and firm wages. We argue that firm-year fixed effects must be used to eliminate this bias. Estimates from two large-panel data sets from Germany and Portugal show that the bias is empirically important. Finally, we show that the results extend to tenure correlates used in macroeconomics, such as the minimum unemployment rate since joining the firm.

Suggested Citation

  • Andy Snell & Pedro Martins & Heiko Stüber & Jonathan P. Thomas, 2018. "Bias in Returns to Tenure When Firm Wages and Employment Comove: A Quantitative Assessment and Solution," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/693867
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andy Snell & Jonathan P. Thomas, 2010. "Labor Contracts, Equal Treatment, and Wage-Unemployment Dynamics," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 98-127, July.
    2. Devereux, Paul J. & Hart, Robert A. & Roberts, J. Elizabeth, 2013. "Job Spells, Employer Spells, and Wage Returns to Tenure," IZA Discussion Papers 7384, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Darren Grant, 2003. "The Effect of Implicit Contracts on the Movement of Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Surveys," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(3), pages 393-408, April.
    4. I. Sebastian Buhai & Miguel A. Portela & Coen N. Teulings & Aico van Vuuren, 2014. "Returns to Tenure or Seniority?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(2), pages 705-730, March.
    5. Joseph G. Altonji & Robert A. Shakotko, 1987. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(3), pages 437-459.
    6. Pascal Michaillat, 2012. "Do Matching Frictions Explain Unemployment? Not in Bad Times," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1721-1750, June.
    7. Mark Gertler & Antonella Trigari, 2009. "Unemployment Fluctuations with Staggered Nash Wage Bargaining," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(1), pages 38-86, February.
    8. Bowlus, Audra J, 1995. "Matching Workers and Jobs: Cyclical Fluctuations in Match Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 335-350, April.
    9. Beaudry, Paul & DiNardo, John, 1991. "The Effect of Implicit Contracts on the Movement of Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 665-688, August.
    10. Moshe Buchinsky & Denis Fougère & Francis Kramarz & Rusty Tchernis, 2002. "Interfirm Mobility, Wages and the Returns to Seniority and Experience in the U.S," Working Papers 2002-29, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    11. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martins, Pedro S., 2016. "Should the Maximum Duration of Fixed-Term Contracts Increase in Recessions? Evidence from a Law Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 10206, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models

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