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Movin On Up: Interpreting the Earnings Experience Profile

  • Alan Manning

Human capital theory provides the generally accepted interpretation of the relationship between earnings and labour market experience, namely that general human capital tends to increase with experience. However, there are other plausible interpretations e.g. search models generally predict that more time in the labour market increases the chance of finding a better match and hence tends to be associated with higher earnings. In this paper we show how a simple search model can be used to predict the amount of earnings growth that can be assigned to search with the residual being assigned to the human capital model. We show how a substantial if not the larger part of the rise in earnings over the life-cycle in Britain can be explained by a simple search model and that virtually all the earnings gap between men and women can be explained in this way. Overall, the evidence suggests that we do need to rethink our interpretation of the returns to experience in earnings functions.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0380.

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Date of creation: Jan 1998
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0380
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Altonji, Joseph G & Shakotko, Robert A, 1987. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 437-59, July.
  2. Amanda Gosling & Stephen Machin & Costas Meghir, 1994. "The changing distribution of male wages in the UK," IFS Working Papers W94/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," NBER Working Papers 3927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Abraham, Katharine G & Farber, Henry S, 1987. "Job Duration, Seniority, and Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 278-97, June.
  5. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Search Unemployment with On-the-Job Search," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 457-75, July.
  6. Dickens, Richard, 2000. "The Evolution of Individual Male Earnings in Great Britain: 1975-95," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(460), pages 27-49, January.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521049399 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, May.
  9. Louis S. Jacobson & Robert J. LaLonde & Daniel Sullivan, 1992. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 92-11, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  10. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-29, April.
  11. Ruhm, Christopher J, 1991. "Are Workers Permanently Scarred by Job Displacements?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 319-24, March.
  12. 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.
  13. Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 145-76, February.
  14. John Schmitt, 1993. "The Changing Structure of Male Earnings in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0122, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  15. Richard Dickens, 1996. "The Evolution of Individual Male Earnings in Great Britain 1974-1994," CEP Discussion Papers dp0306, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  16. Joseph G. Altonji & Nicolas Williams, 1992. "The Effects of Labor Market Experience, Job Seniority, and Job Mobility on Wage Growth," NBER Working Papers 4133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Richard Dickens, 1996. "The evolution of individual male earnings in Great Britain 1974-1994," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20647, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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