Creator: He, Hui and Liu, Zheng Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 644 Abstract:
Wage inequality between education groups in the United States has increased substantially since the early 1980s. The relative number of college-educated workers has also increased dramatically in the postwar period. This paper presents a unified framework where the dynamics of both skill accumulation and wage inequality arise as an equilibrium outcome driven by measured investment-specific technological change. Working through equipment-skill complementarity and endogenous skill accumulation, the model does well in capturing the steady growth in the relative quantity of skilled labor during the postwar period and the substantial rise in wage inequality after the early 1980s. Based on the calibrated model, we examine the quantitative effects of some hypothetical tax-policy reforms on skill accumulation, wage inequality, and welfare.
Keyword: Skill premium, Capital-skill complementarity, Investment-specific technological change, and Skill accumulation Subject (JEL): O33 - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes, E25 - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution, J31 - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials, and J24 - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
Creator: Guvenen, Fatih, Kuruscu, Burhanettin, Tanaka, Satoshi, and Wiczer, David Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 729 Abstract:
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 and the portfolio of abilities possessed by a worker for learning those skills. This measure arises naturally in a dynamic model of occupational choice and human capital accumulation 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 behavior. We construct our empirical analog by combining data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79), the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) on workers, and the O*NET on occupations. 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 negative 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.
Keyword: Mincer regression, ASVAB, Match quality, Skill mismatch, O*NET, and Occupational switching Subject (JEL): J24 - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity, J31 - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials, and E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
Creator: Guvenen, Fatih, Karahan, Fatih, Ozkan, Serdar, and Song, Jae Series: Working paper (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 719 Abstract:
We study the evolution of individual labor earnings over the life cycle using a large panel data set of earnings histories drawn from U.S. administrative records. Using fully nonparametric methods, our analysis reaches two broad conclusions. First, earnings shocks display substantial deviations from lognormality–the standard assumption in the incomplete markets literature. In particular, earnings shocks display strong negative skewness and extremely high kurtosis–as high as 30 compared with 3 for a Gaussian distribution. The high kurtosis implies that in a given year, most individuals experience very small earnings shocks, and a small but non-negligible number experience very large shocks. Second, these statistical properties vary significantly both over the life cycle and with the earnings level of individuals. We also estimate impulse response functions of earnings shocks and find important asymmetries: positive shocks to high-income individuals are quite transitory, whereas negative shocks are very persistent; the opposite is true for low-income individuals. Finally, we use these rich sets of moments to estimate econometric processes with increasing generality to capture these salient features of earnings dynamics.
Keyword: Earnings dynamics, Nonparametric estimation, Life-cycle earnings risk, Kurtosis, Non-Guassian shocks, Normal mixture, and Skewness Subject (JEL): J24 - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity, J31 - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials, and E24 - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
Creator: Pastorino, Elena Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 482 Abstract:
In order to analyze careers both within and across firms, this paper proposes a matching model of the labor market that extends existing models of job assignment and learning about workers’ abilities. The model accounts for worker mobility across jobs and firms, for varying degrees of generality of ability, and for the possibility that firms affect the information they acquire about workers through job assignment. I characterize equilibrium assignment and wages, and show how, depending on how abilities and jobs are distributed across firms, equilibrium gives rise to widely varying patterns of job mobility within firms and turnover across firms, even if matching would be perfectly assortative in the absence of uncertainty. The implied job and wage dynamics display features that are consistent with a broad set of empirical findings on careers in firms and the labor market. In particular, workers can experience gradual promotions and wage increases following successful performance but few or no demotions when employed by the same firm. The model also produces turnover across firms and occupations after both successful and unsuccessful experiences, leading to wage increases or decreases following a firm or occupation change. Overall, the results in this paper provide a unified framework in which to interpret the dynamics of jobs and wages in firms and the labor market.
Keyword: Turnover, Learning, Careers in firms, and Matching Subject (JEL): J31 - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials, J24 - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity, and J62 - Job, Occupational, and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
Creator: Pastorino, Elena Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 470 Abstract:
In this appendix I present details of the model and the empirical analysis, and results of counterfactual experiments omitted from the paper. In Section 1 I describe a simple example that illustrates how, even in the absence of human capital acquisition, productivity shocks, or separation shocks, the learning component of the model can naturally generate mobility between jobs within a firm and turnover between firms. I also include the proofs of Propositions 1 and 2 in the paper. In Section 2 I discuss model identification in detail, where, in particular, I prove that information in my data on the performance ratings of managers allows me to identify the learning process separately from the human capital process. In Section 3 I describe the original U.S. firm dataset of Baker, Gibbs, and Holmström (1994a,b), on which my work is based. In Section 4 I provide details about the estimation of the model, including the derivation of the likelihood function, a description of the numerical solution of the model, and a discussion of the results from a Monte Carlo exercise showing the identifiability of the model’s parameters in practice. There I also derive bounds on the informativeness of the jobs of the competitors of the firm in my data, based on the estimates of the parameters reported in the paper. Finally, in Section 5 I present estimation results based on a larger sample that includes entrants into the firm at levels higher than Level 1. Results of counterfactual experiments omitted from the paper are contained in Tables A.12–A.14.
Keyword: Experimentation, Bandit, Job Mobility, Careers, Human Capital, and Wage Growth Subject (JEL): D83 - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness, J31 - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials, J24 - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity, D22 - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis, J44 - Professional Labor Markets; Occupational Licensing, and J62 - Job, Occupational, and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
Creator: Pastorino, Elena Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 469 Abstract:
This paper develops and structurally estimates a labor market model that integrates job assignment, learning, and human capital acquisition to account for the main patterns of careers in firms. A key innovation is that the model incorporates workers’ job mobility within and between firms, and the possibility that, through job assignment, firms affect the rate at which they acquire information about workers. The model is estimated using longitudinal administrative data on managers from one U.S. firm in a service industry (the data of Baker, Gibbs, and Holmström (1994a,b)) and fits the data remarkably well. The estimated model is used to assess both the direct effect of learning on wages and its indirect effect through its impact on the dynamics of job assignment. Consistent with the evidence in the literature on comparative advantage and learning, the estimated direct effect of learning on wages is found to be small. Unlike in previous work, by jointly estimating the dynamics of beliefs, jobs, and wages imposing all of the model restrictions, the impact of learning on job assignment can be uncovered and the indirect effect of learning on wages explicitly assessed. The key finding of the paper is that the indirect effect of learning on wages is substantial: overall learning accounts for one quarter of the cumulative wage growth on the job during the first seven years of tenure. Nearly all of the remaining growth is from human capital acquisition. A related novel finding is that the experimentation component of learning is a primary determinant of the timing of promotions and wage increases. Along with persistent uncertainty about ability, experimentation is responsible for substantially compressing wage growth at low tenures.
Keyword: Experimentation, Careers, Bandit, Job Mobility, Human Capital, and Wage Growth Subject (JEL): D83 - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness, J31 - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials, J24 - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity, D22 - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis, J44 - Professional Labor Markets; Occupational Licensing, and J62 - Job, Occupational, and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
Creator: Guvenen, Fatih and Kuruscu, Burhanettin Series: Staff report (Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Research Department) Number: 427 Abstract:
In this paper, we construct a parsimonious overlapping-generations model of human capital accumulation and study its quantitative implications for the evolution of the U.S. wage distribution from 1970 to 2000. A key feature of the model is that individuals differ in their ability to accumulate human capital, which is the main source of wage inequality in this model. We examine the response of this model to skill-biased technical change (SBTC), which is modeled as an increase in the trend growth rate of the price of human capital starting in the early 1970s. The model displays behavior that is consistent with several important trends observed in the US data, including the rise in overall wage inequality; the fall and subsequent rise in the college premium, as well as the fact that this behavior was most pronounced for younger workers; the rise in within-group inequality; the stagnation in median wage growth; and the small rise in consumption inequality despite the large rise in wage inequality. We consider different scenarios regarding how individuals’ expectations evolve during SBTC. Specifically, we study the case where individuals immediately realize the advent of SBTC (perfect foresight), and the case where they initially underestimate the future growth of the price of human capital (pessimistic priors), but learn the truth in a Bayesian fashion over time. Lack of perfect foresight appears to have little effect on the main results of the paper. Overall, the model shows promise for explaining a diverse set of wage distribution trends observed since the 1970s in a unifying human capital framework.
Subject (JEL): J31 - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials, E25 - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution, J24 - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity, and E21 - Macroeconomics: Consumption; Saving; Wealth