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Skill Specificity and Labor Mobility: Occupational and Sectoral Dimensions

The ability of workers to change job, sector or occupation and the costs associated with a reallocation of labour are the subject of lively debate among academics. This paper examines occupational and sectoral dimensions of labour mobility in the UK between 1985 and 2000 using data from the Labour Force Survey. By addressing Neal's (Journal of Labour Economics, Vol. 13 (1995), pp. 653-677) conclusion that 'future research*T*.*T*.*T*.*T*must confront the task of defining job categories that directly capture important skill specificities', we attempt to shed some light on the complex relationship between the labour market, the generality and specificity of skills and the ability of individuals to move between and within sectors as well as within and between occupations. Occupational skill specificity and previous sector of employment are shown to affect mobility jointly and individually. Absolute skill differentials also affect mobility with the less skilled exhibiting a greater propensity to change sector and occupation simultaneously. Copyright � 2006 The Authors; Journal compilation � Blackwell Publishing Ltd and The University of Manchester 2006.

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Paper provided by Economics, The University of Manchester in its series The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series with number 0313.

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Date of creation: 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:man:sespap:0313
Contact details of provider: Postal: Manchester M13 9PL
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  1. Derek Neal, 1998. "The Link between Ability and Specialization: An Explanation for Observed Correlations between Wages and Mobility Rates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 173-200.
  2. Bell, Una Louise, 2001. "Labour reallocation during transition: the case of Poland," ZEW Discussion Papers 01-38, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  3. Lilien, David M, 1982. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(4), pages 777-93, August.
  4. Nickell, Stephen, 1982. "The Determinants of Occupational Success in Britain," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 43-53, January.
  5. Neal, Derek, 1999. "The Complexity of Job Mobility among Young Men," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 237-61, April.
  6. S. Lael Brainard & David M. Cutler, 1990. "Sectoral Shifts and Cyclical Unemployment Reconsidered," NBER Working Papers 3491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Dolton, Peter J & Kidd, Michael P, 1998. "Job Changes, Occupational Mobility and Human Capital Acquisition: An Empirical Analysis," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 265-95, October.
  8. Addison, John T & Portugal, Pedro, 1989. "Job Displacement, Relative Wage Changes, and Duration of Unemployment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(3), pages 281-302, July.
  9. Grossman, Gene M & Shapiro, Carl, 1982. "A Theory of Factor Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 1054-69, October.
  10. Michelle Haynes & Richard Upward & Peter Wright, 2002. "Estimating the wage costs of inter- and intra- sectoral adjustment," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 138(2), pages 229-253, June.
  11. Katharine G. Abraham & Lawrence F. Katz, 1984. "Cyclical Unemployment: Sectoral Shifts or Aggregate Disturbances?," NBER Working Papers 1410, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Greenaway, David & Upward, Richard & Wright, Peter, 2000. "Sectoral Transformation and Labour-Market Flows," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 57-75, Autumn.
  13. Greenaway, David & Nelson, Douglas, 2000. "The Assessment: Globalization and Labour-Market Adjustment," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 1-11, Autumn.
  14. Connolly, Sara & Micklewright, John & Nickell, Stephen, 1992. "The Occupational Success of Young Men Who Left School at Sixteen," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 44(3), pages 460-79, July.
  15. Brian P. McCall, 1988. "Occupational Matching: A Test of Sorts," Working Papers 617, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  16. Jackman, Richard & Savouri, Savvas, 1992. "Regional Migration in Britain: An Analysis of Gross Flows Using NHS Central Register Data," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(415), pages 1433-50, November.
  17. McCormick, Barry, 1997. "Regional unemployment and labour mobility in the UK," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 581-589, April.
  18. Sicherman, Nachum, 1990. "Education and occupational mobility," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 163-179, June.
  19. Kathryn L. Shaw, 1984. "A Formulation of the Earnings Function Using the Concept of Occupational Investment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 319-340.
  20. Henley, Andrew, 1998. "Residential Mobility, Housing Equity and the Labour Market," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 414-27, March.
  21. Neal, Derek, 1995. "Industry-Specific Human Capital: Evidence from Displaced Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(4), pages 653-77, October.
  22. Thomas, Jonathan M, 1996. "An Empirical Model of Sectoral Movements by Unemployed Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 126-53, January.
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