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Occupational Mobility and the Business Cycle

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  • Giuseppe Moscarini
  • Francis G. Vella

Abstract

Do workers sort more randomly across different job types when jobs are harder to find? To answer this question, we study the mobility of male workers among three-digit occupations in the matched files of the monthly Current Population Survey over the 1979-2004 period. We clean individual occupational transitions using the algorithm proposed by Moscarini and Thomsson (2008). We then construct a synthetic panel comprising annual birth cohorts, and we examine the respective roles of three potential determinants of career mobility: individual ex ante worker characteristics, both observable and unobservable, labor market prospects, and ex post job matching. We provide strong evidence that high unemployment somewhat offsets the role of individual worker considerations in the choice of changing career. Occupational mobility declines with age, family commitments and education, but when unemployment is high these negative effects are weaker, and reversed for college education. The cross-sectional dispersion of the monthly series of residuals is strongly countercyclical. As predicted by Moscarini (2001)'s frictional Roy model, the sorting of workers across occupations is noisier when unemployment is high. As predicted by job-matching theory, worker mobility has significant residual persistence over time. Finally, younger cohorts, among those in the sample for most of their working lives, exhibit increasingly low unexplained career mobility.

Suggested Citation

  • Giuseppe Moscarini & Francis G. Vella, 2008. "Occupational Mobility and the Business Cycle," NBER Working Papers 13819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13819
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fuller, David L. & Kudlyak, Marianna & Lkhagvasuren, Damba, 2014. "Productivity insurance: The role of unemployment benefits in a multi-sector model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 39-53.
    2. Christopher L. Foote & Richard W. Ryan, 2015. "Labor-Market Polarization over the Business Cycle," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 371-413.
    3. Gavrel, Frédéric & Lebon, Isabelle & Rebière, Thérèse, 2016. "Formal education versus learning-by-doing: On the labor market efficiency of educational choices," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 545-562.
    4. Carlos Carrillo-Tudela, 2010. "Job Search, Human Capital and Wage Inequality," 2010 Meeting Papers 723, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    5. Pieter A. Gautier & Coen N. Teulings, 2015. "Sorting And The Output Loss Due To Search Frictions," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(6), pages 1136-1166, December.
    6. Carrillo-Tudela, Carlos & Hobijn, Bart & She, Powen & Visschers, Ludo, 2016. "The extent and cyclicality of career changes: Evidence for the U.K," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 18-41.
    7. Lkhagvasuren, Damba, 2012. "Big locational unemployment differences despite high labor mobility," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(8), pages 798-814.
    8. Giuseppe Tattara & Marco Valentini, 2010. "Turnover and Excess Worker Reallocation. The Veneto Labour Market between 1982 and 1996," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 24(4), pages 474-500, December.
    9. Elena Pastorino, 2013. "Job matching within and across firms," Staff Report 482, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    10. Lalé, Etienne, 2017. "Worker reallocation across occupations: Confronting data with theory," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 51-68.
    11. Ronald Wolthoff, 2014. "It'S About Time: Implications Of The Period Length In An Equilibrium Search Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 839-867, August.
    12. Nuno Crespo & Nadia Simoes & Sandrina B. Moreira, 2014. "Gender differences in occupational mobility - evidence from Portugal," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(4), pages 460-481, July.
    13. Carrillo-Tudela, Carlos & Hobijn, Bart & She, Powen & Visschers, Ludo, 2015. "The Extent and Cyclicality of Career Changes: Evidence for the UK," 2007 Annual Meeting, July 29-August 1, 2007, Portland, Oregon TN 2015-52, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    14. Gervais, Martin & Jaimovich, Nir & Siu, Henry E. & Yedid-Levi, Yaniv, 2016. "What should I be when I grow up? Occupations and unemployment over the life cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 54-70.
    15. Paul Gomme & Damba Lkhagvasuren, 2011. "The Cyclicality of Search Intensity in a Competitive Search Model," Working Papers 11003, Concordia University, Department of Economics.
    16. Carlos Carrillo-Tudela & Bart Hobijn & Powen She & Ludo Visschers, 2014. "The Extent and Cyclicality of Career Changes: Evidence for the UK (first version)," ESE Discussion Papers 246, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    17. Damba Lkhagvasuren, 2005. "Big Locational Differences in Unemployment Despite High Labor Mobility," Working Papers 12002, Concordia University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2012.
    18. Summerfield, Fraser, 2014. "Labor Market Conditions, Skill Requirements and Education Mismatch," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2014-19, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 28 Apr 2014.
    19. Chris Robinson, 2011. "Occupational Mobility, Occupation Distance and Specific Human Capital," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20115, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
    20. Carlos Felipe Balcázar, 2016. "Long-run effects of democracy on income inequality in Latin America," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 14(3), pages 289-307, September.
    21. Wolthoff, Ronald P., 2011. "It's About Time: Implications of the Period Length in an Equilibrium Job Search Model," IZA Discussion Papers 6002, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    22. Carrillo-Tudela, Carlos & Hobijn, Bart & Visschers, Ludo, 2014. "Career changes decline during recessions," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    23. Carillo-Tudela, Carlos & Hobijn, Bart & She, Powen & Visschers, Ludo, 2014. "The Extent and Cyclicality of Career Changes: Evidence for the UK," 2007 Annual Meeting, July 29-August 1, 2007, Portland, Oregon TN 2015-40, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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