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Growing old together: firm survival and employee turnover

  • Erwan Quintin
  • John J. Stevens

Labor market outcomes such as turnover and earnings are correlated with employer characteristics, even after controlling for observable differences in worker characteristics. We argue that this systematic relationship constitutes strong evidence in favor of models where workers choose how much to invest in future productivity. Because employer characteristics are correlated with firm survival, returns to these investments vary across firm types. We describe a dynamic general equilibrium model where workers employed in firms more likely to survive choose to devote more time to productivity enhancing activities, and therefore have a steeper earnings-tenure profile. Our model also predicts that quit rates should be lower in firms more likely to survive, and should tend to fall during slow times, while job destruction rates should rise. These predictions, we argue, are borne out by the existing empirical evidence.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2005-22.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2005-22
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  1. Jovanovic, Boyan & Nyarko, Yaw, 1995. "The transfer of human capital," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(5-7), pages 1033-1064.
  2. Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en ├ęconomie quantitative, CIREQ.
  3. Richard Layard & Stephen Nickell, 1998. "Labour Market Institutions and Economic Performance," CEP Discussion Papers dp0407, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  4. Gueorgui Kambourov & Iourii Manovskii, 2009. "Occupational Specificity Of Human Capital," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(1), pages 63-115, 02.
  5. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Firm-specific Capital and Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1246-60, December.
  6. Barron, John M & Berger, Mark C & Black, Dan A, 1997. "How Well Do We Measure Training?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 507-28, July.
  7. Bruce Fallick & Charles A. Fleischman, 2004. "Employer-to-employer flows in the U.S. labor market: the complete picture of gross worker flows," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-34, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Atkenson, Andrew & Khan, Aubhik & Ohanian, Lee, 1996. "Are data on industry evolution and gross job turnover relevant for macroeconomics?," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 215-239, June.
  9. Robert H. Topel & Michael P. Ward, 1988. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," NBER Working Papers 2649, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. David N. DeJong & Beth F. Ingram, 2001. "The Cyclical Behavior of Skill Acquisition," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(3), pages 536-561, July.
  11. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Gerard Pfann, 1992. "Turnover and the Dynamics of Labor Demand," NBER Working Papers 4204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Hopenhayn, Hugo & Rogerson, Richard, 1993. "Job Turnover and Policy Evaluation: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(5), pages 915-38, October.
  13. Barron, John M & Black, Dan A & Loewenstein, Mark A, 1987. "Employer Size: The Implications for Search, Training, Capital Investment, Starting Wages, and Wage Growth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(1), pages 76-89, January.
  14. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-20, September.
  15. Erwan Quintin & John J. Stevens, 2005. "Raising the bar for models of turnover," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-23, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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