Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Audra J. Bowlus


This thesis contains three studies of job and occupational mobility, and their implications for earnings. The second chapter of the thesis develops and estimates a model of job and occupational search to examine how and how much learning influences young workers' job search and transition patterns. The model incorporates uncertainty regarding the accumulation processes of workers' different skills, and features directed search whereby workers choose search effort intensities for different occupations. The model is estimated using U.S. data, with individuals' occupational affiliations grouped into skilled white-collar, skilled blue-collar, and non-skilled occupations. The estimates show large differences in search frictions, skill acquisition rates, and learning opportunities across occupations. Simulation exercises show that learning can have a sizeable effect on young workers' job search. However, because of job search frictions, changes in job search effort due to learning do not result in a comparable effect in occupational transition outcomes. Search frictions have a particularly large consequence for those directing their search effort to the white-collar occupation.

Building on the search and matching model of Albrecht and Vroman (2002), the third chapter develops a dynamic model of employment transitions among full-time work, part-time work and nonemployment, and offers an explanation based on human capital depreciation for British women's life-cycle employment transition patterns. Numerical examples of the model indicate that the model can capture their stylized life-cycle transition patterns through their endogenous decision making under reasonable parameter values.

The fourth chapter develops and estimates an equilibrium search model of immigrants operating in the same labour market as natives, where newly arrived immigrants have lower job offer arrival rates than natives but can acquire the same arrival rates according to a stochastic process. Using Canadian panel data, substantial differences in job offer arrival and destruction rates are found between natives and immigrants that are able to account for three quarters of the observed earnings gap. The estimates imply that immigrants take, on average, 13 years to acquire the native search parameters. Counterfactual exercises show that the vast majority of earnings growth immigrants experience after migration is due to the job search assimilation process.