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Factors Affecting the Output and Quit Propensities of Production Workers

  • Roger Klein
  • Richard H. Spady
  • Andrew Weiss

We have used a proprietary data set of newly hired semi-skilled production workers at one location of a large unionized firm to investigate several issues in labor economics. This data set is unique in several respects: the workers in our sample faced the same wage schedules, had the same promotional opportunities, the same job tenure (zero), similar working conditions, and had jobs for which we were able to record their physical output. We analyze these data by formulating a simultaneous equation model to explain wages, output, education, and a worker's quit decision. The model is estimated by maximum likelihood and subjected to a variety of specification tests. Such tests include a comparison of the standard error estimates that form the basis for White's information test, and White's version of a Hausman specification test. Our principal findings are: 1. Individuals that choose more education than we would expect from their observed characteristics have lower than expected quit propensities. We argue that this low quit propensity is one of the unmeasured (and unobserved) attributes that sorting models posit are correlated with education and hence distort the usual estimates of rates of return to education. 2. The performance of non-whites in our sample was no lower than that of whites. However, on their previous jobs non-whites received lower wages than did whites. 3. The output per hour of males in our sample was higher than that of females; however, we were unable to conclude from our data whether these productivity differences could explain the higher wages received by men on their previous jobs. Moreover, this output difference may be transitory and may diminish with on-the-job learning. 4. The expected value of alternative wages had a positive (but not statistically very significant) effect on quit rates. Workers with better alternative opportunities were more likely to quit (all workers had the same opportunities on their current job). 5. Finally we found that workers with high output levels were more likely to quit than were workers with average output levels.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2184.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2184.

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Date of creation: Mar 1987
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Publication status: published as Klein, Roger, Richard H. Spady, and Andrew Weiss. "Factors Affecting the Output and Quit Propensities of Production Workers," The Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 58, no. 5 (October 1991), pp. 929-953.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2184
Note: LS
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  1. Ann P. Bartel, 1982. "Wages, nonwage job characteristics, and labor mobility," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 35(4), pages 578-589, July.
  2. Viscusi, W Kip, 1980. "Sex Differences in Worker Quitting," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(3), pages 388-98, August.
  3. White, Halbert, 1982. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Misspecified Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 1-25, January.
  4. Weiss, Andrew, 1984. "Determinants of Quit Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(3), pages 371-87, July.
  5. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  6. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Mellow, Wesley, 1982. "Employer Size and Wages," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(3), pages 495-501, August.
  8. Farrell E. Bloch, 1979. "Labor Turnover in U.S. Manufacturing Industries," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(2), pages 236-246.
  9. 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.
  10. Pencavel, John H, 1972. "Wages, Specific Training, and Labor Turnover in US Manufacturing Industries," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 13(1), pages 53-64, February.
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