The Complexity of Job Mobility Among Young Men
NBER Working Paper No. 6662
The model of job search involves both employer matches and career matches and incorporates an asymmetry in the search technology. Workers may change employers without changing careers, but cannot search over possible lines of work while working for one employer. The optimal policy implies a two-stage search strategy in which workers search over types of work first. After finding a good match with a particular line of work, they then concentrate on finding an employer. The patterns of job changes observed in the NLSY provide considerable support for the two-stage search policy implied by the model. Among male workers who are changing jobs, those who have previously changed employers while working in their current career are much less likely to change careers during the current job change. This result holds even among workers with similar levels of career-specific work experience. Further, the link between experience and the complexity of job changes operates almost entirely through the two-stage mechanism identified in the model. Among those who are in the first stage (no previous intra-career moves) there is little relationship between experience and the complexity of job changes.
Published: Journal of Labor Economics, Vol. 17, no. 2 (April 1999): 237-261