Pre-market skills, occupational choice, and career progression


This paper develops a new empirical framework for analyzing occupational choice and career progression. I merge the NLSYs with O*Net and find that pre-market skills (primarily ASVAB test scores) predict the task content of the workers' occupations. These measures account for 71 percent of the gender gap in science and engineering occupations. Career trajectories are similar across workers, so that initial differences in occupation persist over time. I then quantify the effect of layoffs on career trajectory and find that a layoff erases one-fourth of a worker's total career increase in task content but this effect only lasts two years.

Publication Title

Journal of Human Resources