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Workshop: Workshop on Distribution Shifts: Connecting Methods and Applications

CAREER: Economic Prediction of Labor Sequence Data Under Distribution Shift

Keyon Vafa · Emil Palikot · Tianyu Du · Ayush Kanodia · Susan Athey · David Blei


Labor economists regularly analyze employment data by fitting predictive models to small, carefully constructed longitudinal survey datasets. Although modern machine learning methods offer promise for such problems, these survey datasets are too small to take advantage of them. In recent years large datasets of online resumes have also become available, providing data about the career trajectories of millions of individuals. However, the distribution of these large resume datasets differ in meaningful ways from the survey datasets used for economic estimation; standard econometric models cannot take advantage of their scale or make predictions under distribution shift. To this end we develop CAREER, a transformer-based model that uses transfer learning to learn representations of job sequences. CAREER is first fit to large, passively-collected resume data and then fine-tuned on samples of the downstream data distribution of interest. We find that CAREER forms accurate predictions of job sequences, achieving state-of-the-art predictive performance on three widely-used economics datasets. We also find that CAREER is adept at making predictions under distribution shifts in time.

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