PhD defence of Anja Deelen on 7 December 2017

On Thursday 7 December Anja Deelen will defend her PhD thesis entitled 'A Game of Snakes and Ladders: four applied micro-econometric studies of wages and jobs in the Netherlands'. Supervisor is Professor J.C. van Ours. Other members of the committee are: Professor B.J. ter Weel (SEO, UvA).

About Anja Deelen

Anja Deelen (Ridderkerk,1965) obtained her master's degree in economics in 1991 at the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). Anja has been working for CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis since 1992, at various units and departments. Moreover, she followed a selection of courses from the Tinbergen Institute research master program during 2005--2008. Her research interests include applied micro-econometrics in the fields of labour economics and economics of education.

Thesis abstract

The thesis consists of four empirical studies of the Dutch labour market, based on extensive administrative data regarding wages, jobs and worker and firm characteristics. The thesis shows that wage-tenure profiles (‘wage-ladders’) in the Netherlands are relatively steep, compared internationally. Moreover, it suggests that low job-to-job mobility of older workers and steep wage-tenure profiles are two sides of the same coin. Steep wage-tenure profiles are partly explained by relatively high wage rises of wages exceeding the highest wage-scale ceilings. A difference-in difference analysis on matched data shows that the consequences of displacement due to firm bankruptcy (or ‘encountering a snake’, in terms of the game of snakes and ladders in the title of the thesis) are highly contingent on age, especially regarding employment probabilities. Job- and sector-specific factors (which encompass not only specific human capital, but also tenure-related employment protection and compensation schemes) are important to understanding steep wage-tenure profiles and the fact that displacement affects older workers more negatively than prime-age workers. A decomposition on linked employer--employee panel data shows that employment reduction is by far the most important channel for wage-bill contraction when firms face declining sales. Regressions indicate that if wages were more downwardly flexible, job losses could be lower after adverse shocks. Moreover, employment adjustments do not hit a random group of workers. This illustrates a segmented labour market, where employment adjustment on the one hand predominantly affects workers with relatively weak labour-market positions, while ongoing workers are assured of wage increases notwithstanding any sales shocks suffered by the firm.

Time and location

The PhD defence will take place in the Senate Hall of Erasmus University Rotterdam and will start at 15.30 hrs.

More information

For more information about this ceremony, please contact Ronald de Groot, Communication Officer of the Erasmus School of Economics phone +31 10 408 1762 or by e-mail:

Anja’s PhD research project is conducted within the Erasmus Doctoral Programme organised by Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), the joint research institute of Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) and Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) of the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR).

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