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Learning and occupational sorting


  • Jonathan James


This paper develops and estimates a model of occupational choice and learning that allows for correlated learning across occupation specificabilities. In the labor market, workers learn about their potential outcomes in all occupations, not just their current occupation. Based on what they learn, workers engage in directed search across occupations. The estimates indicate that sorting occurs in multiple dimensions. Workers discovering a low ability in their current occupation are significantly more likely to move to a new occupation. At the same time, workers discovering a high ability in some occupations are more likely to move up the occupational ladder into managerial occupations. By age 28 this sorting process leads to an aggregate increase in wages similar to what would occur if all workers were endowed with an additional year of education.

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  • Jonathan James, 2012. "Learning and occupational sorting," Working Paper 1225, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedcwp:1225

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McCall, Brian P, 1990. "Occupational Matching: A Test of Sorts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(1), pages 45-69, February.
    2. Peter Arcidiacono & John Bailey Jones, 2003. "Finite Mixture Distributions, Sequential Likelihood and the EM Algorithm," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(3), pages 933-946, May.
    3. Carl Sanders, 2012. "Skill Uncertainty, Skill Accumulation, and Occupational Choice," 2012 Meeting Papers 633, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Neal, Derek, 1999. "The Complexity of Job Mobility among Young Men," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 237-261, April.
    5. Miller, Robert A, 1984. "Job Matching and Occupational Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1086-1120, December.
    6. Bernal, Raquel & Keane, Michael P., 2010. "Quasi-structural estimation of a model of childcare choices and child cognitive ability production," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 164-189, May.
    7. Kate Antonovics & Limor Golan, 2012. "Experimentation and Job Choice," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 333-366.
    8. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
    9. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-990, October.
    10. Gregory S. Crawford & Matthew Shum, 2005. "Uncertainty and Learning in Pharmaceutical Demand," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(4), pages 1137-1173, July.
    11. Shintaro Yamaguchi, 2012. "Tasks and Heterogeneous Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 1-53.
    12. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence F. Katz & Thomas Lemieux & Daniel Parent, 2005. "Comparative Advantage, Learning, and Sectoral Wage Determination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 681-724, October.
    13. Daniel A. Ackerberg, 2003. "Advertising, learning, and consumer choice in experience good markets: an empirical examination," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(3), pages 1007-1040, August.
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    Labor market ; Occupational training;

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