Empirical Economics

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 805–838 | Cite as

Vocational education, occupational choice and unemployment over the professional career

  • Achim SchmillenEmail author


This study investigates the relationship between occupational choice and unemployment over the professional career with German administrative linked employer–employee data that track more than 800,000 graduates from vocational education over 25 years. Using short-run fluctuations in local and sectoral occupation-specific labor demand as instruments, it finds that choosing an occupation that later turns out to suffer from low or negative employment growth has a statistically and economically significant impact on unemployment over the professional career. On average, an unanticipated one-standard deviation decrease in occupation-specific employment growth raises unemployment by about 116 days over the life cycle.


Occupational choice Unemployment Vocational education 

JEL Classification

J24 J64 I21 



I thank Joachim Möller, Philipp vom Berge, David Card, Richard Frensch, Jolien Helsel, Patrick Kline, Nels Lind, Juliane Parys, Jesse Rothstein, Matthias Umkehrer as well as conference and seminar participants in Berkeley, Carlisle, Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Regensburg and Vancouver and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions. Special thanks are due to Heiko Stüber for providing insight and expertise that greatly assisted this research. An early part of this research was conducted while I was visiting the University of California, Berkeley, whose hospitality is gratefully acknowledged. The findings, interpretations and conclusions expressed in this paper are entirely my own. They do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank and its affiliated organizations, or those of the Executive Directors of the World Bank or the governments they represent.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The World BankWashingtonUSA

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