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The Returns to Seniority in France (and Why Are They Lower than in the United States?)

  • Beffy, Magali



  • Buchinsky, Moshe


    (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Fougère, Denis



  • Kamionka, Thierry



  • Kramarz, Francis



We estimate a model of the joint participation and mobility along with the individuals' wage formation in France. Our model makes it possible to distinguish between unobserved person heterogeneity and state-dependence. We estimate the model using state of the art bayesian methods employing a long panel (1976-1995) for France. Our results clearly show that returns to seniority are small, and for some education groups are close to zero. The specification here is the same as that used in Buchinsky, Fougère, Kramarz and Tchernis (2002), where the returns to seniority were found to be quite large. This result also holds when using the method employed by Altonji and Williams (1992) for both countries. It turns out that differences between the two countries relate to firm-to-firm mobility. Using a model of Burdett and Coles (2003), we explain the rationale for this phenomenon. Specifically, in a low-mobility country such as France, there is little gain in compensating workers for long tenures because they tend to stay in the firm for most, if not all, of their career. This is true even in cases where individuals clearly possess substantial amount of firm-specific human capital. In contrast, for a high-mobility country such as the United States, high returns to seniority have a clear incentive effect, and firms are induced to pay the premium associated with firm-specific human capital to avoid losing their most productive workers.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1935.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1935
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  1. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-20, September.
  2. Abraham, Katharine G & Farber, Henry S, 1987. "Job Duration, Seniority, and Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 278-97, June.
  3. Joseph G. Altonji & Nicolas Williams, 2005. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority? A Reassessment," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(3), pages 370-397, April.
  4. Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  5. Dean R. Hyslop, 1999. "State Dependence, Serial Correlation and Heterogeneity in Intertemporal Labor Force Participation of Married Women," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1255-1294, November.
  6. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Firm-specific Capital and Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1246-60, December.
  7. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-84, December.
  8. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2002. "Equilibrium wage dispersion with worker and employer heterogeneity," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/dc0ckec3fcb, Sciences Po.
  9. Salop, Joanne & Salop, Steven, 1976. "Self-Selection and Turnover in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 619-27, November.
  10. Joseph Altonji & R. Shakotko, 1985. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority?," Working Papers 567, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  11. Buchinsky, Moshe & Fougère, Denis & Kramarz, Francis & Tchernis, Rusty, 2005. "Interfirm Mobility, Wages, and the Returns to Seniority and Experience in the U.S," IZA Discussion Papers 1521, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Grégory Jolivet & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2006. "The Empirical Content of the Job Search Model: Labor Mobility and Wage Distributions in Europe and the U.S," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00308803, HAL.
  13. repec:inr:wpaper:155908 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Robert H. Topel, 1990. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," NBER Working Papers 3294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Joseph G. Altonji & Nicolas Williams, 1992. "The Effects of Labor Market Experience, Job Seniority, and Job Mobility on Wage Growth," NBER Working Papers 4133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Ken Burdett & Melvyn Coles, 2003. "Equilibrium Wage-Tenure Contracts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(5), pages 1377-1404, 09.
  17. Jacob Mincer, 1974. "Progress in Human Capital Analysis of the Distribution of Earnings," NBER Working Papers 0053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Lillard, Lee A & Willis, Robert J, 1978. "Dynamic Aspects of Earning Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 985-1012, September.
  19. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1984. "Matching, Turnover, and Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 108-22, February.
  20. Miller, Robert A, 1984. "Job Matching and Occupational Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1086-120, December.
  21. Flinn, Christopher J, 1986. "Wages and Job Mobility of Young Workers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages S88-S110, June.
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