Worker churning and firms' wage policies

Pedro S. Martins (Queen Mary, University of London, London, UK, IZA, Bonn, Germany and CEG‐IST, Lisbon, Portugal)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Publication date: 21 March 2008



The purpose of this paper is to provide empirical evidence of a causal nature about the relationship between wages and churning (“excessive” worker turnover).


Matched employer‐employee panel data from Portugal, covering the period 1986‐2000 are used in the study. Econometric methods are also used, including random effects tobit models, fixed effects and instrumental variables.


Unlike in previous research (which typically does not consider causal relationships), the paper presents evidence that wages do not necessarily decrease the amount of churning. If employers are forced to increase pay, they may respond by hiring different workers. Detailed evidence about the nature of job and worker flows and churning levels across industries is presented.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should examine the paths of workers whose wages are affected by collective bargaining.

Practical implications

The paper provides additional evidence that effort may not be particularly sensitive to wages in some industries/occupations. The should be a better understanding of role of wages in personnel policies.


This paper is probably the first that seeks to examine the causal relationship between wages and churning. The results will be of interest to labour economists and human resource management experts.



Martins, P. (2008), "Worker churning and firms' wage policies", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 48-63.

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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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