October 2017

IZA DP No. 11114: Occupational Match Quality and Gender over Two Cohorts

revised version published in: Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 2020, 73(3), 730-767.

Job mobility, especially early in a career, is an important source of wage growth. This effect is typically attributed to heterogeneity in the quality of employee-employer matches, with individuals learning of their abilities and discovering the tasks at which they are most productive through job search. That is, job mobility enables better matches, and individuals move to better their labor market prospects and settle once they find a satisfactory match. In this paper, we show that there are gender differences in match quality and changes in match quality over the course of careers. In particular, we find that females are mismatched more than males. This is true even for females with the best early-career matches. However, the direction of the gender effect differs significantly by education. Only females among the college educated are more mismatched and are more likely to be over-qualified then their male counterparts. These results are seemingly driven by life events, such as child birth. For their part, college-educated males of the younger cohort are worse off in terms of match quality compared to the older cohort, while the new generation of women is doing better on average.