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Career Choice and the Strength of Weak Ties

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  • Tumen, Semih

    () (Central Bank of Turkey)

Abstract

This paper argues that the structure (i.e., size and composition) of the informal search network is a crucial determinant of the career decisions of young workers. Building on the search-theoretic career choice and job mobility model proposed by Neal (1999), I compare the consequences of career advice by one's weak ties versus that by strong ties. The main result is that receiving help from weak ties is associated with early career and job settlements, while the strong ties are more likely to lead to amplified mobility and generate mismatch. Given a network size, I find a strongly positive correlation between the fraction of weak ties among one's informal connections and the likelihood of settling on a stable career path early in the life course. I also find that the sign of this correlation persists, while the magnitude gets smaller as the network size increases. I conclude that the strength-of-weak-ties hypothesis can shed light on the complexity of job mobility patterns among young workers. The model can explain why it takes much longer for blacks – whose informal networks are documented to consist of strong ties – to locate a stable career path than their white counterparts. It also predicts that young workers from closed and segregated neighborhoods tend to spend more time before they find suitable careers.

Suggested Citation

  • Tumen, Semih, 2016. "Career Choice and the Strength of Weak Ties," IZA Discussion Papers 10401, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10401
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Deepti Goel & Kevin Lang, 2009. "Social Ties and the Job Search of Recent Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 15186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Lars Ljungqvist & Thomas J. Sargent, 2004. "Recursive Macroeconomic Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 026212274x, January.
    3. William R. Johnson, 1978. "A Theory of Job Shopping," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 92(2), pages 261-277.
    4. Deepti Goel & Kevin Lang, 2009. "Social Ties and the Job Search of Recent Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 15186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    job mobility; career choice; search; strength of weak ties; social networks;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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