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A Structural Model of Tenure and Specific Investments

  • Martin A. van der Ende
  • Coenraad N. Teulings

Though a lot of work has been done on the distribution of job tenures, we are still uncertain about its main determinants. In this paper, we stress random shocks to match productivity after the start of an employment relation. The specificity of investment makes hiring and separation decisions irreversible.These decisions therefore have an option value. Assumptions on riskneutrality, efficient bargaining, and the efficient resolution of hold up problems allow investment and separation decisions to be analyzed separately from wage setting. The tenure profiles in wages implied by the model fit the observed pattern quite well. The model yields a hump shaped pattern in separation rates, similar to learning models, but with a slowerdecline after the peak. Estimation results using job tenure data from the NLSY support this humped shaped pattern and favor this model above the learning model. We develop a methodology to analyze the decomposition of shocks to match productivity into idiosyncratic and macro-level shocks.When assuming a Last-In-First-Out (LIFO) separation rule, this model of individualemployment relations is embedded in a model of firm level employment, that satisfies Gibrat’s law. The LIFO rule is interpreted as an institution protecting the property rights on specific investments of incumbentworkers against hiring new workers by the firm.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 532.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_532
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  1. 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.
  2. Caballero, R.J. & Hammour, M.L., 1991. "The Cleansing Effect of Recessions," Discussion Papers 1991_59, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
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  4. Dustmann, Christian & Meghir, Costas, 1999. "Wages, Experience and Seniority," CEPR Discussion Papers 2077, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
  9. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Diamond, Peter A, 1994. "Ranking, Unemployment Duration, and Wages," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 417-34, July.
  10. Kenneth Burdett & Dale T. Mortensen, 1989. "Equilibrium Wage Differentials and Employer Size," Discussion Papers 860, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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  12. Farber, Henry S, 1994. "The Analysis of Interfirm Worker Mobility," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(4), pages 554-93, October.
  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. Feldstein, Martin S, 1976. "Temporary Layoffs in the Theory of Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(5), pages 937-57, October.
  15. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  16. Kuhn, Peter, 1988. "A Nonuniform Pricing Model of Union Wages and Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 473-508, June.
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  21. Parent, D., 1995. "Wages and Mobility: the Impact of Employer-Provided Training," Cahiers de recherche 9507, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  22. Abowd, John M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1993. "The Effects of Product Market Competition on Collective Bargaining Agreements: The Case of Foreign Competition in Canada," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(4), pages 983-1014, November.
  23. Topel, Robert H & Ward, Michael P, 1992. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 439-79, May.
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  26. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521590730 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Scholarly Articles 12490578, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  28. 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 335-50, April.
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