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Title: Essays on Occupational Choice, College Major, and Career Outcomes
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Speer, Jamin D.
Essays on Occupational Choice, College Major, and Career Outcomes
Ph.D. Dissertation, Yale University, 2014
Cohort(s): NLSY79, NLSY97
Publisher: ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (PQDT)
Keyword(s): Armed Forces Qualifications Test (AFQT); Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB); Career Patterns; High School; High School Completion/Graduates; High School Dropouts; Job Characteristics; Occupational Information Network (O*NET); Occupations; Skills; Transition, School to Work; Wages

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

The first chapter uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth's 1979 and 1997 cohorts, which are nationally representative panel surveys following workers from their teenage years well into their careers. The key advantage of the NLSYs for my purposes is that they also include a variety of cognitive and noncognitive pre-market skill measures, which I can then link to career outcomes. I combine these data with O*Net, which contains data on the task requirements of each occupation. I find that pre-market skills are strong predictors of the corresponding task content of the workers' occupations, both initially and much later in their careers. Career trajectories are similar across worker skill types, implying that initial differences in occupation persist over the course of a career.

The third chapter uses the weekly work history data from the NLSY's 1979 cohort to analyze the effect of leaving high school during a recession. These data allow me to precisely measure labor market outcomes and the school-to-work transition. I document severe but short-lived effects of leaving school in a recession on wages, job quality, and the transition time from school to work for men with 9 to 12 years of education. In contrast to published evidence on more educated workers, I find large effects on work hours on both the extensive and intensive margins. When workers leave high school in a recession, they work fewer total weeks and more part-time weeks in their first year in the labor market. They also take substantially longer to find a job, have less access to on-the-job training, and report lower promotion possibilities. Effects of the entry unemployment rate on wages are also large. A 4-point rise in the initial unemployment rate leads to a 21% decline in year-one average wage, a 32% fall in hours worked in the first year, and a 54% decline in first-year earnings. However, the effects of economic conditions are not persistent; by year four, there is no effect on wages, hours, or earnings.

Bibliography Citation
Speer, Jamin D. Essays on Occupational Choice, College Major, and Career Outcomes. Ph.D. Dissertation, Yale University, 2014.