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On-the-job learning and earnings


  • Guillaume Destré

    () (TEAM - Théories et Applications en Microéconomie et Macroéconomie - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Louis Lévy-Garboua

    () (TEAM - Théories et Applications en Microéconomie et Macroéconomie - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Michel Sollogoub

    () (TEAM - Théories et Applications en Microéconomie et Macroéconomie - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)


A simple model of informal learning on-the-job which combines learning by oneself and learning from others is proposed in this paper. It yields a closed-form solution that revises Mincer-Jovanovic's (1981) treatment of tenure in the human capital earnings function by relating earnings to the individual's learning potential from jobs and firms. We estimate the structural parameters of this non-linear model on a large French survey with matched employer-employee data. We find that workers on average can learn from others ten percent of their own human capital on entering the firm, and catch half of their learning potential in just two years. The measurement of worker's learning potential in their jobs and establishments provides a simple characterization of primary-type and secondary-type jobs and establishments. We find a strong relationship between the job-specific learning potential and tenure. Predictions of dual labor market theory regarding the positive match of primary-type firms (which offer high learning opportunities) with highly endowed workers (educated, high wages) are visible at the establishment level but seem to vanish at the job's level.

Suggested Citation

  • Guillaume Destré & Louis Lévy-Garboua & Michel Sollogoub, 2005. "On-the-job learning and earnings," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00193953, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-00193953
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis & Kenneth R. Troske, 2000. "Politiques salariales et performances des entreprises : une comparaison France/États-Unis," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 332(1), pages 27-38.
    2. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-229, April.
    3. Dickens, William T & Lang, Kevin, 1985. "A Test of Dual Labor Market Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 792-805, September.
    4. Benhabib, Jess & Spiegel, Mark M., 1994. "The role of human capital in economic development evidence from aggregate cross-country data," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 143-173, October.
    5. Richard R. Nelson & Edmond S. Phelps, 1965. "Investment in Humans, Technological Diffusion and Economic Growth," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 189, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    6. Barron, John M & Black, Dan A & Loewenstein, Mark A, 1989. "Job Matching and On-the-Job Training," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(1), pages 1-19, January.
    7. Jacob Mincer & Boyan Jovanovic, 1981. "Labor Mobility and Wages," NBER Chapters,in: Studies in Labor Markets, pages 21-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Chennouf, Soheïl & Lévy-Garboua, Louis & Montmarquette, Claude, 1997. "Les effets de l’appartenance à un groupe de travail sur les salaires individuels," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 73(1), pages 207-232, mars-juin.
    9. Abowd, John M. & Kramarz, Francis, 1999. "The analysis of labor markets using matched employer-employee data," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 40, pages 2629-2710 Elsevier.
    10. Nordman, C., 2000. "La formation sur le tas par diffusion du savoir : estimations sur donnees marocaines, mauriciennes et tunisiennes," Papiers d'Economie Mathématique et Applications 2000.111, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
    11. John M. Barron & Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black, 1997. "On-the-Job Training," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number ojt, November.
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    More about this item


    dualism; Human capital; earnings functions; informal training; learning from others; learning by oneself; returns to tenure; dualism.; Capital humain; fonctions de gains; formation informelle; apprentissage par observation des autres; apprentissage autonome; rendements de l'ancienneté; dualisme.;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education


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