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Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men

Robert H. Topel and Michael P. Ward
The Quarterly Journal of Economics
Vol. 107, No. 2 (May, 1992), pp. 439-479
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2118478
Page Count: 41
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Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men
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Abstract

Using longitudinal data, we study the processes of job mobility and wage growth among young men. During the first ten years in the labor market, a typical worker will hold seven jobs, about two thirds of his career total. The evolution of wages plays a key role in this transition to stable employment: wage gains at job changes account for at least a third of early-career wage growth, and the wage is the key determinant of job changing decisions among young workers. Job changing is a critical component of workers' movement toward the stable employment relations of mature careers. The wastefulness of this "try and try again" process of advancing to a better position is self-evident. The worker does not know in detail the nature of the job which he is obtaining nor does he know his own capacities. Nevertheless it is the principal method by which workers at the present time improve their condition on their own initiative [Slichter, 1919, p. 218].

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