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Job Seekers' Survey

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Marta Murray-Close

The Job Seekers project combines publicly available information about candidates on the junior faculty job market in economics with responses to a web-based survey. The project tracks the family and career trajectories of graduating cohorts of economists and provides a uniquely detailed picture of jointly evolving professional and personal lives. Joint migration constraints are a central focus of our data collection. Accordingly, our survey data contain rich information about the experiences of new economists with tied migration (moving with a partner to an individually sub-optimal location) and non-cohabitation (living apart from a partner for the purpose of career advancement).
In the first paper from the project, we use data from the project to assess the impact of joint migration constraints on the initial placements and relationship outcomes of new economists. We provide the first estimates of the prevalence of tied migration and non- cohabitation based on representative data from a known population. In addition, we describe the career and relationship costs associated with each outcome. We present evidence that non-cohabitation is an important margin of adjustment for couples facing joint migration constraints. In fact, new economists in our sample are more likely to live apart from their spouse or partner one year after the job market closes than to sacrifice a first-choice job in order to live together. Because the standard economic model of joint migration (Mincer, 1978) does not allow for non-cohabitation, it cannot account for these results. We develop a simple extension of the model and identify, theoretically and empirically, the conditions under which couples are most likely to live apart. We argue that, for couples who have invested heavily in the human capital of both partners and whose career opportunities are geographically diffuse, moving up sometimes means moving out.

Funding Period: 02/01/2011 to 06/30/2012

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