I examine the exit decision of registered nurses using the longitudinal data files generated by the March Current Population Surveys (CPS) from 1983 through 1994. By examining the wages of workers outside of nursing, a measure of the reservation wage is constructed and related to the decision to leave nursing, either for an alternative job or to exit employment. My results indicate that nurses respond to outside wage opportunities. A one standard deviation decrease in the difference between the actual and predicted log wage results in an 8 percent increase in the exit of nurses. Secretaries, however, are shown to have a much greater sensitivity to outside wages due to the lower degree of occupation-specific training required for secretarial jobs. A similar increase in the wage gap for secretaries results in an 18 percent increase in turnover. RNs employed in hospitals, covered by a union contract, and employed in the public sector are relatively attached to the nursing profession.
Schumacher, E.J. (1997). Relative wages and exit behavior among registered nurses. Journal of Labor Research, 18(4), 581-592. doi: 10.1007/s12122-997-1024-5
Journal of Labor Research