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Atlanta Fed Working Papers


Explaining Changes in the Age Distribution of Displaced Workers

Daniel Rodriguez and Madeline Zavodny
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Working Paper 2000-1
February 2000

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Using Displaced Worker Survey data, this paper examines changes in the age distribution of displaced workers during the 1983–87 and 1993–97 periods. Older workers comprised a significantly larger fraction of displaced workers during the later period. Potential explanations for this phenomenon include demographic shifts in the labor force, changes in technology, and industry and occupational shifts. Kernel density estimates indicate that the aging of the labor force accounts for the majority of the shift in the age distribution of displaced workers. Changes in technology also appear to have contributed to the shift in the age distribution of displaced workers by increasing the likelihood of displacement among older workers relative to younger workers. Differential changes across age groups between goods-producing and service-producing jobs and between blue-collar and white-collar jobs appear to have had little effect on the change in the age distribution of displaced workers.

JEL classification: J21, J23

Key words: displacement, age


The authors thank Donna Ginther for helpful comments and Joanna Melhop and Smit Sharma for research assistance. The views expressed here are the authors' and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors are the authors' responsibility.

Please address questions regarding content to Daniel Rodriguez, Goizueta Business School, Emory University, 1300 Clifton Road, Suite 554, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, 404/727-8637, 404/727-6663 (fax), daniel_rodriguez@bus.emory.edu or Madeline Zavodny, Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 104 Marietta Street, NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30303-2713, 404/498-8977, 404/498-8058 (fax), madeline.zavodny@atl.frb.org.

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