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Teenage Unemployment: Permanent Scars or Temporary Blemishes?

  • David T. Ellwood
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    This paper examines the persistence and long-term impacts of early labor force experiences. The paper reports a rise in employment rates for a cohort of young men as they age, but points out that those persons with poor employment records early have comparatively poor records later. In order to asses the extent to which differences in later employment and wages are causally related to these earlier employment experiences, the methodologies of Heckman, Chamberlain, and others are extended to account for Markov type persistence and a straight forward estimation technique results. In addition, a Sims type causality test is used to measure the true impact of work experience on wages. The paper concludes that the effects of a period without work do not end with that spell. A teenager who spends time out of work in one year will probably spend less time working in the next than he would have had he worked the entire year. Furthermore, the lost work experience will be reflected in considerably lower wages. At the same time, the data provide no evidence that early unemployment sets off a vicious cycle of recurrent unemployment. The reduced employment effects die off very quickly. What appears to persist are effects of lost work experience on wages.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w0399.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 0399.

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    Date of creation: Oct 1979
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    Publication status: published as Ellwood, David. "Teenage Unemployment: Permanent Scars or Temporary Blemishes?" The Youth Labor Market Problem: Its Nature, Causes and Consequences, edited by Richard B. Freeman and David A. Wise, pp. 349-390. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0399
    Note: LS
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    1. Robert H. Meyer & David A. Wise, 1979. "High School Preparation and Early Labor Force Experience," NBER Working Papers 0342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Lillard, Lee A & Willis, Robert J, 1978. "Dynamic Aspects of Earning Mobility," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 985-1012, September.
    3. Kim B. Clark & Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "The Dynamics of Youth Unemployment," NBER Chapters, in: The Youth Labor Market Problem: Its Nature, Causes, and Consequences, pages 199-234 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Heckman, James J, 1978. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(4), pages 931-59, July.
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