Job Mobility and the Careers of Young Men

by Robert H. Topel, Michael P. Ward


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Male workers in the United States change jobs more than eleven times during their lives but most of these changes occur before the age of 30. The vast majority do not involve spells of unemployment and most are associated with increases in earnings. In this Note, the authors study the process of job change among young men and consider those characteristics of workers and firms that make for lasting employment relationships. Among their conclusions the authors found that (1) declining mobility over careers is the outcome of a search process in which the workers sort themselves into better and better employment matches; (2) among young men, more than 60 percent of all new jobs end in the first year and more than one-third end in the first three months; (3) the likelihood that a new job will last increases with labor market experience; (4) an important portion of rapid labor turnover among young workers is accounted for by weak labor force attachment; (5) young blacks hold jobs that are significantly less stable than those of whites; and (6) jobs in large firms are more stable than in small ones.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.