The cyclicality of on-the-job search

Felix Bransch, Samreen Malik, Benedikt Mihm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


On-the-job search is increasingly recognized as an important potential driver of labor market dynamics over the business cycle. Using the UK Labor Force Survey, we find robust empirical evidence that on-the-job search is countercyclical and that the cyclical fluctuations have important repercussions for labor market dynamics. We also find that the cyclical pattern is not explained by precautionary search motives but rather appears to be driven by job-ladder-motivated searches. This finding is surprising because, as we confirm, the expected returns to on-the-job search are procyclical. We find evidence that three features of search behavior may contribute to this finding: greater search effort in response to lower job-to-job transition probabilities, a prevalence of non-pecuniary motivated searches that are less affected by lower expected wage gains, and procyclicality in average match quality, which has a significant impact on the search behavior of new hires over the business cycle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102517
JournalLabour Economics
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Beveridge curve
  • Labor market dynamics
  • On-the-job search

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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