Call for Papers

XIII World Congress of the International Economic History Association
Buenos Aires,
July 2002
Session on:
Making a career: indiviudal work-life histories and labour market structures

The session will consist of studies in which the unit of analysis is the career/work-life history of the individual worker. We expect to include studies using quantitative data sets with longitudinal information on workers and studies employing biographical and qualitative evidence on collections of workers. Among the issues we hope the studies will address are:

a) patterns of occupational, task, and job tenure and turnover for individual workers.
b) the steepness (or flatness) of age-earnings profiles in various settings.
c) actors that have structured career/work-life experiences in various settings, including:

i) guild structures with apprentice-journeyman-master transitions
ii) professionalization
iii) rise of internal labour markets in modern corporations
iv) rise of bureaucratic meritocracies

Although we would expect that many of the studies will be of developed countries over the last two centuries, we welcome paper proposals for all time periods and geographical areas that make use of evidence on career and work-life histories.

While profiting from these earlier studies, this session emphases individual movements in relation to the structure of the respective labour markets. The individual level data to be used are in themselves a useful complement to the aggregate data, and they can be employed both in a biographical, prosopographical sense as well as analyzed using state of the art tools such as event-history analysis and optimal matching.

This approach may allow to describe individual life histories, the way they were experienced and to explain them, in part, from structural features of the labour market. In doing so the approach also allows to test and sharpen theoretical notions by studying concrete labour markets. It can also be seen as a rejoinder on the question of combining quantitative and qualitative research, as this is what the meeting hopes to attain.

The reasons for sending out this call for papers so early, are that we wish to have ample time to prepare a coherent session, as well as possibly a book, will organize at least one pre-conference meeting (at the European Social Science History Conference in April 2000).

Please send in any proposals as soon as possible.


David Mitch, Economics, University of Maryland,
Marco H.D. van Leeuwen,
Netherlands Economic History Archives
Cruquiusweg 31, 1019 AT Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Fax: 31.20.6654181