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The Barriers to Occupational Mobility: An Aggregate Analysis

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Listed:
  • Giovanni Gallipoli

    (UBC)

  • Matias Cortes

    (University of Manchester)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the barriers to occupational mobility using a theoretical framework that parallels that of the gravity models commonly estimated in the trade literature. The model provides an equation linking flows of workers across occupation pairs to a set of source and destination occupation characteristics, and to the transition costs faced by workers. The equation is estimated using data from the matched monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) from 1994 to 2012. The main proxies for the transition cost investigated in the paper are related to the task content of occupations, specifically task distance (the degree of dissimilarity in the mix of task requirements across the occupation pair) and a set of indicator variables for transitions that involve changes across major task groups. Task-related variables are found to play a substantial role in increasing the cost of switching between occupations. In a counterfactual scenario where workers are able to switch occupations without bearing any task-related costs, occupational mobility rates for the majority of the occupations in our sample would increase by between 7 and 30 percentage points.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Gallipoli & Matias Cortes, 2014. "The Barriers to Occupational Mobility: An Aggregate Analysis," 2014 Meeting Papers 480, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed014:480
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kathryn L. Shaw, 1984. "A Formulation of the Earnings Function Using the Concept of Occupational Investment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 319-340.
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    3. David H. Autor & David Dorn, 2013. "The Growth of Low-Skill Service Jobs and the Polarization of the US Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1553-1597, August.
    4. Gervais, Martin & Jaimovich, Nir & Siu, Henry E. & Yedid-Levi, Yaniv, 2016. "What should I be when I grow up? Occupations and unemployment over the life cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 54-70.
    5. David H. Autor & Frank Levy & Richard J. Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
    6. Guido Matias Cortes, 2016. "Where Have the Middle-Wage Workers Gone? A Study of Polarization Using Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(1), pages 63-105.
    7. Fane Groes & Philipp Kircher & Iourii Manovskii, 2015. "The U-Shapes of Occupational Mobility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 659-692.
    8. Moscarini, Giuseppe & Thomsson, Kaj, 2006. "Occupational and Job Mobility in the US," Working Papers 19, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    9. Sullivan, Paul, 2010. "Empirical evidence on occupation and industry specific human capital," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 567-580, June.
    10. Maxim Poletaev & Chris Robinson, 2008. "Human Capital Specificity: Evidence from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and Displaced Worker Surveys, 1984-2000," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 387-420, July.
    11. Erhan Artuç & Shubham Chaudhuri & John McLaren, 2010. "Trade Shocks and Labor Adjustment: A Structural Empirical Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1008-1045, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Comerford & Jose V Rodriguez Mora & Michael J Watts, 2017. "The rise of meritocracy and the inheritance of advantage," Working Papers 1716, University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics.
    2. Brant Abbott & Giovanni Gallipoli, 2017. "Human Capital Spillovers and the Geography of Intergenerational Mobility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 25, pages 208-233, April.
    3. Joao Alfredo Galindo da Fonseca & Giovanni Gallipoli & Yaniv Yedid-Levi, 2016. "Revisiting the Relationship Between Unemployment and Wages," Working Papers 2016-001, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    4. Artuç, Erhan & McLaren, John, 2015. "Trade policy and wage inequality: A structural analysis with occupational and sectoral mobility," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 278-294.
    5. Xiaodong Zhu & Trevor Tombe, 2015. "Trade, Migration and Regional Income Differences: Evidence from China," 2015 Meeting Papers 1534, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Kondo, Ayako & Naganuma, Saori, 2015. "Inter-industry labor reallocation and task distance," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 127-147.
    7. Trevor Tombe & Xiaodong Zhu, 2015. "Trade, Migration and Productivity: A Quantitative Analysis of China," Working Papers tecipa-542, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    8. Bauer, Anja, 2015. "Reallocation patterns across occupations," IAB Discussion Paper 201526, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), Nürnberg [Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany].

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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