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The Speed of Employer Learning


  • Fabian Lange


The employer-learning literature finds support for statistical discrimination on the basis of schooling. How economically relevant statistical discrimination is depends on how fast employers learn about workers’ productive types. This article is the first to estimate the speed of employer learning. Employers learn quickly. Initial expectation errors decline by 50% within 3 years. This estimate places an upper bound on the contribution of signaling. This bound varies with the speed of employer learning and with discount rate. For a wide range of parameter values, the contribution of signaling to the gains from schooling is less than 25%.

Suggested Citation

  • Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:25:y:2007:p:1-35
    DOI: 10.1086/508730

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Andrew D. Foster & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 1993. "Information, Learning, and Wage Rates in Low-Income Rural Areas," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(4), pages 759-790.
    3. Hause, John C, 1972. "Earnings Profile: Ability and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages 108-138, Part II, .
    4. Henry S. Farber & Robert Gibbons, 1996. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1007-1047.
    5. Robert H. Topel & Michael P. Ward, 1992. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 439-479.
    6. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
    7. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
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