Order or chaos? Understanding career mobility using sequence analysis and information-theoretic methods

Marc A. Scott, Matthew Zeidenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We examine the careers of a nationally representative U.S. cohort of young adults using sequence analysis and information-theoretic techniques to describe these careers’ structure and how this structure might inform differences in wage mobility. We operationalise the career as a sequence of industry-occupation pairs observed quarterly. We investigate how the content of these pairs and their organisation over time relate to future mobility. We perform the analysis across three different mobility groups, one of which is characterised by persistent low-wage work. Contrary to what one might expect, low-wage work is not typified by a lack of structure, even in many of the careers in which the worker is weakly attached to the labour market. Using clustering techniques customised to this problem, we build a typology of careers within three groups of workers defined by their wage mobility. We find significant variation within, as well as similarity across the three groups, enhancing our understanding of careers with different levels of mobility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-346
Number of pages27
JournalLongitudinal and Life Course Studies
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Categorical data clustering
  • Information theory
  • Intragenerational mobility
  • National longitudinal survey
  • Optimal matching
  • Sequence analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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