IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerard A. Pfann & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2000. "Two-Sided Learning, Labor Turnover, and Worker Displacement," Working Papers 0021, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0021

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Radner, Roy, 1981. "Monitoring Cooperative Agreements in a Repeated Principal-Agent Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(5), pages 1127-1148, September.
    2. Pfann, Gerard A., 2001. "Options to quit," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 259-265, February.
    3. Kiefer, Nicholas M & Neumann, George R, 1979. "An Empirical Job-Search Model, with a Test of the Constant Reservation-Wage Hypothesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(1), pages 89-107, February.
    4. 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.
    5. Bruce C. Fallick, 1996. "A Review of the Recent Empirical Literature on Displaced Workers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(1), pages 5-16, October.
    6. Robert H. Topel & Michael P. Ward, 1992. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 439-479.
    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 838-868, August.
    8. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 2001. "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 313-350.
    9. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 1981. "Race and Sex Differences in Quits by Young Workers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 34(4), pages 563-577, July.
    10. 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 912-927, December.
    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. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1987. "The Costs of Worker Displacement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(1), pages 51-75.
    13. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Emilia Del Bono & Andrea Weber & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2012. "Clash Of Career And Family: Fertility Decisions After Job Displacement," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 659-683, August.
    2. Huttunen, Kristiina & Moen, Jarle & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2006. "How Destructive Is Creative Destruction? The Costs of Worker Displacement," IZA Discussion Papers 2316, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. von Greiff, Jenny, 2009. "Displacement and self-employment entry," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 556-565, October.
    4. Kenneth A. Counch, 2003. "Job Matching and Wage Growth in the U.S. and Germany," Working papers 2003-10, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    5. Tatsiramos, Konstantinos, 2010. "Job displacement and the transitions to re-employment and early retirement for non-employed older workers," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 517-535, May.

    More about this item


    two-sided learning; labor turnover; worker displacement;

    JEL classification:

    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0021. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Eleanor Cartelli). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.