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Two-Sided Learning, Labor Turnover, and Worker Displacement

  • Gerard A. Pfann
  • Daniel S. Hamermesh

We remedy several deficiencies in the recent literature on job loss while modernizing the very early job-displacement literature. After constructing a structural model of two-sided learning between a firm and its workers, we estimate it using personnel data from Fokker Aircraft in the Netherlands that cover the path of layoffs and quits up to and including its bankruptcy in March 1996. We find that the firm learns about the workers’ loyalty (demonstrating the role of information in repeated principal-agent relationships), while workers do not learn (consistent with earlier empirical results on American workers). The type of data that we use also generates information on the value of learning and on whether and how the characteristics of workers who remain until the firm’s death differ from those of all of its affected workers. It thus allows us to infer the extent of biases in measuring the losses arising from displacement if the sample is restricted to displaced workers.

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Paper provided by Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago in its series Working Papers with number 0021.

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Date of creation: Oct 2000
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Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0021
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  1. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1987. "The Costs of Worker Displacement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 51-75, February.
  2. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
  3. Jacobson, Louis S & LaLonde, Robert J & Sullivan, Daniel G, 1993. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 685-709, September.
  4. Pfann, Gerard A., 2000. "Options to Quit," IZA Discussion Papers 197, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. 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.
  6. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 2001. "Employer Learning And Statistical Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 313-350, February.
  7. Felli, Leonardo & Harris, Christopher, 1996. "Learning, Wage Dynamics, and Firm-Specific Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 838-68, August.
  8. KIEFER, Nicholas M. & NEUMANN, George R., . "An empirical job-search model, with a test of the constant reservation-wage hypothesis," CORE Discussion Papers RP -358, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  9. Bruce C. Fallick, 1995. "A review of the recent empirical literature on displaced workers," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 95-14, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Francine D. Blau & Larry M. Kahn, 1981. "Race and sex differences in quits by young workers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(4), pages 563-577, July.
  11. McLaughlin, Kenneth J, 1991. "A Theory of Quits and Layoffs with Efficient Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 1-29, February.
  12. Radner, Roy, 1981. "Monitoring Cooperative Agreements in a Repeated Principal-Agent Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(5), pages 1127-48, September.
  13. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1983. "Incentive Effects of Terminations: Applications to the Credit and Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 912-27, December.
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