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Stepping Stone Mobility

  • Boyan Jovanovic
  • Yaw Nyarko

People at the top of an occupational ladder earn more partly because they have spent time on lower rungs, where they have learned something. But what precisely do they learn? There are two contrasting views: First, the Bandit model assumes that people are different, that experience reveals their characteristics, and that consequently an occupational switch can result. Second, in our Stepping Stone model, experience raises a worker's productivity on a given task and the acquired skill can in part be transferred to other occupations, and this prompts movement. Safe activities (where mistakes destroy less output) are a natural training ground.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5651.

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Date of creation: Jul 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Volume 46, June 1997, pp. 289-325
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5651
Note: PR
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  1. Miller, Robert A, 1984. "Job Matching and Occupational Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1086-120, December.
  2. Boyan Jovanovic & Robert Moffitt, 1990. "An Estimate of a Sectoral Model of Labor Mobility," NBER Working Papers 3227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. O'Flaherty, B. & Siow, A., 1989. "On The Job Screening, Up Or Out Rules, And Firm Growth," Discussion Papers 1989_02, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  4. Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Why Are There Returns to Schooling?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 153-58, May.
  5. MacDonald, Glenn M, 1980. "Person-Specific Information in the Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 578-97, June.
  6. Steve J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1991. "Gross job creation, gross job destruction and employment reallocation," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 91-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  7. Joseph G. Altonji & Robert A. Shakotko, 1985. "Do Wages Rise With Job Seniority?," NBER Working Papers 1616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Baker, George & Gibbs, Michael & Holmstrom, Bengt, 1994. "The Internal Economics of the Firm: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 881-919, November.
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