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Learning and Life Cycle Patterns of Occupational Transitions

Author

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  • Gorry Devon
  • Aspen Gorry
  • Nicholas Trachter

Abstract

Data reveal that individuals experience a high number of occupational switches. Over 40% of high school graduates transition between white and blue collar occupations more than once between the ages of 18 and 28. This paper develops a life cycle model of occupational choices based on workers learning about their type and sorting themselves to the best job match. Documenting life cycle patterns of occupational choices using data from the NLSY79 supports key predictions from the model. Initial characteristics are predictive of future patterns of occupational switching, including the timing and number of switches. In addition, the average time to the first occupational switch is longer than the time to the second switch for individuals with multiple occupational transitions.

Suggested Citation

  • Gorry Devon & Aspen Gorry & Nicholas Trachter, 2014. "Learning and Life Cycle Patterns of Occupational Transitions," Working Paper 14-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:14-15
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kate Antonovics & Limor Golan, 2012. "Experimentation and Job Choice," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 333-366.
    2. Fane Groes & Philipp Kircher & Iourii Manovskii, 2015. "The U-Shapes of Occupational Mobility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 659-692.
    3. Gueorgui Kambourov & Iourii Manovskii, 2008. "Rising Occupational And Industry Mobility In The United States: 1968-97," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(1), pages 41-79, February.
    4. Maxim Poletaev & Chris Robinson, 2008. "Human Capital Specificity: Evidence from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and Displaced Worker Surveys, 1984-2000," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 387-420, July.
    5. Theodore Papageorgiou, 2014. "Learning Your Comparative Advantages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(3), pages 1263-1295.
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    Cited by:

    1. vom Lehn, Christian & Ellsworth, Cache & Kroff, Zachary, 2020. "Reconciling Occupational Mobility in the Current Population Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 13509, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Jaison R. Abel & Richard Florida & Todd M. Gabe, 2018. "Can low-wage workers find better jobs?," Staff Reports 846, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    3. Papageorgiou, Theodore, 2018. "Large firms and within firm occupational reallocation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 184-223.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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