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Occupational Mobility and Wage Inequality

  • Kambourov, Gueorgui

    ()

    (University of Toronto)

  • Manovskii, Iourii

    ()

    (University of Pennsylvania)

In this study we argue that wage inequality and occupational mobility are intimately related. We are motivated by our empirical findings that human capital is occupation-specific and that the fraction of workers switching occupations in the United States was as high as 16% a year in the early 1970s and had increased to 19% by the early 1990s. We develop a general equilibrium model with occupation-specific human capital and heterogeneous experience levels within occupations. We argue that the increase in occupational mobility was due to the increase in the variability of productivity shocks to occupations. The model, calibrated to match the increase in occupational mobility, accounts for over 90% of the increase in wage inequality over the period. A distinguishing feature of the theory is that it accounts for changes in within-group wage inequality and the increase in the variability of transitory earnings.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1189.

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Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economic Studies, 2009, 76 (2), 731-759
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1189
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  1. Wouter Den Haan & Christian Haefke & Garey Ramey, 2001. "Shocks and Institutions in a Job Matching Model," NBER Working Papers 8463, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1998. "Consumption Inequality And Income Uncertainty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 603-640, May.
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  8. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  9. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2004. "The Cross-Sectional Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 4296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Gueorgui Kambourov & Iourii Manovskii, 2009. "Occupational Specificity Of Human Capital," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(1), pages 63-115, 02.
  11. Joseph G. Altonji & Robert A. Shakotko, 1985. "Do Wages Rise With Job Seniority?," NBER Working Papers 1616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  13. Chari, V V & Hopenhayn, Hugo, 1991. "Vintage Human Capital, Growth, and the Diffusion of New Technology," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(6), pages 1142-65, December.
  14. Francesco Caselli, 1999. "Technological Revolutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 78-102, March.
  15. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  16. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Ricardo Cossa, 2002. "Learning-By-Doing Vs. On-the-Job Training: Using Variation Induced by the EITC to Distinguish Between Models of Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 9083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Marcelo Veracierto, 2002. "On the cyclical behavior of employment, unemployment and labor force participation," Working Paper Series WP-02-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  18. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill-Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 733-783, October.
  19. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  20. Huw Lloyd-Ellis, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 47-77, March.
  21. Loungani, P. & Ruch, M. & Tave, W., 1989. "Stock Market Dispersion, Unemployment And Gnp," Papers 89-02, Florida - College of Business Administration.
  22. Richard Rogerson, 2005. "Sectoral Shocks, Specific Human Capital and Displaced Workers," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(1), pages 89-105, January.
  23. Robert H. Topel, 1997. "Factor Proportions and Relative Wages: The Supply-Side Determinants of Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 55-74, Spring.
  24. Lucas, Robert Jr. & Prescott, Edward C., 1974. "Equilibrium search and unemployment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 188-209, February.
  25. Peter Gottschalk, 1997. "Inequality, Income Growth, and Mobility: The Basic Facts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 21-40, Spring.
  26. Peter Gottschalk & Robert Moffitt, 1994. "The Growth of Earnings Instability in the U.S. Labor Market," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 217-272.
  27. Bertola, Giuseppe & Ichino, Andrea, 1995. "Wage Inequality and Unemployment: US vs Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 1186, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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