ABILITY AND EMPLOYER LEARNING:

EVIDENCE FROM THE ECONOMIST LABOR MARKET

by Paul Oyer

Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, 22, June 2008, 268-289.

ABSTRACT

I study the human capital development and firm-worker matching processes for PhD economists. This group is useful for this purpose because the types of jobs they hold can be easily categorized and they have an observable productivity measure (that is, publications.) I derive a two-period model to motivate an empirical analysis of economist job matching upon graduation, matching ten years later, and productivity in the first ten years. I show that matching to a higher ranked institution affects productivity. I present evidence that employers improve their estimates of economists' ability early in their career in a way that determines longer-term job placement. I also find that the initial placement of economists to institutions does not show much evidence of systematic misallocation along observable characteristics.

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