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The Importance of Obtaining a High-Paying Job

  • Devereux, Paul J.

Given the high level of job mobility in the United States, one might think that obtaining a low-paying job would have only temporary consequences. However, using longitudinal data, I find that state dependence in wages is large and persistent. If two comparable individuals start jobs that pay a different wage, about 60% of the wage differential is still present four years later. Moreover, about 50% of the wage differential is still present for workers who have switched employers during that period. The results indicate that the jobs acquired by individuals have long- term effects on their future careers. I also examine the mechanisms that lead to state dependence. In a stigma model, prospective employers use wages as a signal of ability. Thus, getting a poor job can lead the market to believe that an individual has low ability. In the learning-by-doing model, workers who get high-paying jobs also attain greater opportunities to acquire human capital. The evidence suggests that both stigma and learning by doing models contribute to state dependence in wages.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 49326.

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Date of creation: Jan 2002
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:49326
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  1. Altonji, Joseph G & Shakotko, Robert A, 1987. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 437-59, July.
  2. 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.
  3. Parent, Daniel, 2002. "Matching, human capital, and the covariance structure of earnings," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 375-404, July.
  4. McCormick, Barry, 1990. "A Theory of Signalling during Job Search, Employment Efficiency, and "Stigmatised" Jobs," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 299-313, April.
  5. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
  6. Joseph G. Altonji & James R. Spletzer, 1991. "Worker Characteristics, Job Characteristics, and the Receipt of On-the-Job Training," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(1), pages 58-79, October.
  7. Hause, John C, 1980. "The Fine Structure of Earnings and the On-the-Job Training Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 1013-29, May.
  8. Robert H. Topel, 1990. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," NBER Working Papers 3294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 1997. "Employer learning and statistical discrimination," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  10. Michael Waldman, 1984. "Job Assignments, Signalling, and Efficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 255-267, Summer.
  11. Beaudry, Paul & DiNardo, John, 1991. "The Effect of Implicit Contracts on the Movement of Wages over the Business Cycle: Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 665-88, August.
  12. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-26, November.
  14. Jacob Mincer, 1988. "Job Training, Wage Growth, and Labor Turnover," NBER Working Papers 2690, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
  16. Solon, Gary & Barsky, Robert & Parker, Jonathan A, 1994. "Measuring the Cyclicality of Real Wages: How Important Is Composition Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(1), pages 1-25, February.
  17. Baker, Michael, 1997. "Growth-Rate Heterogeneity and the Covariance Structure of Life-Cycle Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 338-75, April.
  18. Katz, Lawrence F & Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance, Recall Expectations, and Unemployment Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(4), pages 973-1002, November.
  19. Anderson, T. W. & Hsiao, Cheng, 1982. "Formulation and estimation of dynamic models using panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 47-82, January.
  20. Kearl, J R, 1988. "The Covariance Structure of Earnings and Income, Compensatory Behavior, and On-the-Job Investments," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 214-23, May.
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