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Multidimensional Skill Mismatch

Listed author(s):
  • Fatih Guvenen
  • Burhan Kuruscu
  • Satoshi Tanaka
  • David Wiczer

What determines the earnings of a worker relative to his peers in the same occupation? What makes a worker fail in one occupation but succeed in another? More broadly, what are the factors that determine the productivity of a worker-occupation match? In this paper, we propose an empirical measure of skill mismatch for a worker-occupation match, which sheds light on these questions. This measure is based on the discrepancy between the portfolio of skills required by an occupation (for performing the tasks that produce output) and the portfolio of abilities possessed by a worker for learning those skills. This measure arises naturally in a dynamic model of occupational choice with multidimensional skills and Bayesian learning about one's ability to learn these skills. In this model, mismatch is central to the career outcomes of workers: it reduces the returns to occupational tenure, and it predicts occupational switching behaviour. We construct our empirical analog by combining data from the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), O*NET, and National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79). Our empirical results show that the effects of mismatch on wages are large and persistent: mismatch in occupations held early in life has a strong effect on wages in future occupations. Skill mismatch also significantly increases the probability of an occupational switch and predicts its direction in the skill space. These results provide fresh evidence on the importance of skill mismatch for the job search process.

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Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number tecipa-544.

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Length: Unknown pages
Date of creation: 10 Jul 2015
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-544
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  1. Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jeremy Lise, 2015. "Multidimensional Skills, Sorting, and Human Capital Accumulation," 2015 Meeting Papers 386, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Mortensen, Dale & Pissarides, Christopher, 2011. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 1-19.
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  17. Moshe Buchinsky & Denis Fougère & Francis Kramarz & Rusty Tchernis, 2010. "Interfirm Mobility, Wages and the Returns to Seniority and Experience in the United States," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(3), pages 972-1001.
  18. Theodore Papageorgiou, 2014. "Learning Your Comparative Advantages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(3), pages 1263-1295.
  19. David Wiczer & Amanda Michaud, 2017. "Occupational Hazards and Social Disability Insurance," 2017 Meeting Papers 111, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  20. Michaud, Amanda M. & Wiczer, David, 2014. "Occupational hazards and social disability insurance," Working Papers 2014-24, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 03 Oct 2016.
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