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The Effects of Labor Market Experience, Job Seniority, and Job Mobility on Wage Growth

  • Joseph G. Altonji
  • Nicolas Williams

This paper studies the returns to seniority, the returns to experience, and the effects of seniority and experience at the time of a quit or layoff on changes in the job match specific component of wages. We show that these returns are not identified in widely used regression models that relate the wage changes of stayers, quits, and layoffs to tenure and experience. We deal with the identification of problems in two ways. First, we obtain theoretical bounds on key unidentified parameters using a simple model of wages and mobility. Second, we check the implications of assumptions about the linear tenure slope for the estimates of the returns to tenure, experience, and the effect of tenure on job match gains. We have three main empirical findings. First, there is a large return to general labor market experience that is independent of job shopping. Second, the return to tenure is probably above the Altonji and Shakotko's (1987) estimate but far below OLS estimates. Third, quits results in substantial job match gains for inexperienced workers. Layoffs are associated with the substantial job match losses for workers who have been on the job for over a year.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4133.

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Date of creation: Aug 1992
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Publication status: published as Altonji, Joseph G. and Nicolas Williams. "The Effects of Labor Market Experience, Job Seniority and Mobility on Wage Growth." Research in Labor Economics 17 (1998): 233-276.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4133
Note: LS
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  1. Brown, James N & Light, Audrey, 1992. "Interpreting Panel Data on Job Tenure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(3), pages 219-57, July.
  2. Marshall, Robert C & Zarkin, Gary A, 1987. "The Effect of Job Tenure on Wage Offers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(3), pages 301-24, July.
  3. Brown, James N, 1989. "Why Do Wages Increase with Tenure? On-the-Job Training and Life-Cycle Wage Growth Observed within Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 971-91, December.
  4. Joseph G. Altonji & Robert A. Shakotko, 1985. "Do Wages Rise With Job Seniority?," NBER Working Papers 1616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Topel, Robert H & Ward, Michael P, 1992. "Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 439-79, May.
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  7. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence Katz, 1989. "Layoffs and Lemons," Working Papers 629, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Robert E. Hall & Edward P. Lazear, 1982. "The Excess Sensitivity of Layoffs and Quits to Demand," NBER Working Papers 0864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  10. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-20, September.
  11. Kletzer, Lori Gladstein, 1989. "Returns to Seniority after Permanent Job Loss," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 536-43, June.
  12. Milton Harris & Bengt Holmstrom, 1981. "A Theory of Wage Dynamics," Discussion Papers 488, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  13. Louis S. Jacobson & Robert J. LaLonde & Daniel Sullivan, 1992. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 92-11, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  14. Masanori Hashimoto & Ben T. Yu, 1980. "Specific Capital, Employmemt Contracts, and Wage Rigidity," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(2), pages 536-549, Autumn.
  15. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-29, April.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1987. "The Costs of Worker Displacement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 51-75, February.
  19. Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(1), pages 145-76, February.
  20. Topel, Robert, 1990. "Specific capital and unemployment: Measuring the costs and consequences of job loss," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 181-214, January.
  21. Bull, Clive & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1988. "Mismatch versus Derived-Demand Shift as Causes of Labour Mobility," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 169-75, January.
  22. Hashimoto, Masanori, 1981. "Firm-Specific Human Capital as a Shared Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 475-82, June.
  23. 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.
  24. Lynch, Lisa M, 1992. "Private-Sector Training and the Earnings of Young Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 299-312, March.
  25. Barron, John M & Black, Dan A & Loewenstein, Mark A, 1989. "Job Matching and On-the-Job Training," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(1), pages 1-19, January.
  26. Jacob Mincer & Boyan Jovanovic, 1981. "Labor Mobility and Wages," NBER Chapters, in: Studies in Labor Markets, pages 21-64 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Lawrence F. Katz, 1986. "Efficiency Wage Theories: A Partial Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 1906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Williams, Nicolas, 1991. "Reexamining the Wage, Tenure and Experience Relationship," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(3), pages 512-17, August.
  29. Mortensen, Dale T, 1988. "Wages, Separations, and Job Tenure: On-the-Job Specific Training or Matching?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 445-71, October.
  30. Joseph G. Altonji & James R. Spletzer, 1991. "Worker characteristics, job characteristics, and the receipt of on-the-job training," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(1), pages 58-79, October.
  31. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
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