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We evaluate the bias from endogenous job mobility in fixed-effects estimates of worker- and firm-specific earnings heterogeneity using longitudinally linked employer-employee data from the LEHD infrastructure file system of the U.S. Census Bureau. First, we propose two new residual diagnostic tests of the assumption that mobility is exogenous to unmodeled determinants of earnings. Both tests reject exogenous mobility. We relax the exogenous mobility assumptions by modeling the evolution of the matched data as an evolving bipartite graph using a Bayesian latent class framework. Our results suggest that endogenous mobility biases estimated firm effects toward zero. To assess validity, we match our estimates of the wage components to out-of-sample estimates of revenue per worker. The corrected estimates attribute much more of the variation in revenue per worker to variation in match quality and worker quality than the uncorrected estimates.


An earlier version of this paper can be found here: This paper was previously released on 2016-05-19; the current version is more recent. The published version is available from Journal of Business and Economic Statistics at

Replication code can be found at DOI:10.5281/zenodo.zenodo.376600 and our Github repository endogenous-mobility-replication .

Abowd acknowledges direct support from NSF Grants SES-0339191, CNS-0627680, SES-0922005, TC-1012593, and SES-1131848. This research uses data from the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Program, which was partially supported by National Science Foundation Grants SES-9978093, SES-0339191 and ITR-0427889; National Institute on Aging Grant AG018854; and grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.