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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
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Publication status: published as Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Volume 46, June 1997, pp. 289-325
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5651
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  1. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1992. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction, and Employment Reallocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 819-863.
  2. Jovanovic, Boyan & Moffitt, Robert, 1988. "An Estimate Of A Sectoral Model Of Labor Mobility," Working Papers 88-32, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  3. Robert H. Topel, 1990. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," NBER Working Papers 3294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Joseph G. Altonji & Robert A. Shakotko, 1987. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 54(3), pages 437-459.
  6. Miller, Robert A, 1984. "Job Matching and Occupational Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1086-120, December.
  7. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
  8. O'Flaherty, B. & Siow, A., 1990. "On the Job Screening, Up or Out Rules, and Firm Growth," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 90-11, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  9. George Baker & Michael Gibbs & Bengt Holmstrom, 1994. "The Internal Economics of the Firm: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 881-919.
  10. Rosenzweig, Mark R, 1995. "Why Are There Returns to Schooling?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 153-58, May.
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