Working Papers, Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus
Incentives, Sorting and Productivity along the Career: Evidence from a Sample of Top Economists
(), Valérie Smeets and Frédéric Warzynski
Abstract: In this paper we study empirically the labor market of
economists. We look at the mobility and promotion patterns of a sample of
1,000 top economists over thirty years and link it to their productivity
and other personal characteristics. We find that the probability of
promotion and of upward mobility is positively related to past production.
However, the sensitivity of promotion and mobility to production diminishes
with experience, indicating the presence of a learning process. We also
find evidence that economists respond to incentives. They tend to exert
more effort at the beginning of their career when dynamic incentives are
important. This finding is robust to the introduction of tenure, which has
an additional negative ex post impact on production. Our results indicate
therefore that both promotions and tenure have an effect on the provision
of incentives. Finally, we detect evidence of a sorting process, as the
more productive individuals are allocated to the best ranked universities.
We provide a very simple theoretical explanation of these results based on
Holmström (1982) with heterogeneous firms.
Keywords: Dynamic incentives; career concerns; sorting; productivity; internal labor markets; human capital; economic departments; promotions; mobility; tenure; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: J41; M51; (follow links to similar papers)
45 pages, January 17, 2003
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