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Generalists and Specialists, Ability and Earnings

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  • Sang-Hyop Lee

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Hawaii at Manoa)

Abstract

The comparative advantage model developed in this paper predicts generalists enjoy a higher rate of return to their overall abilities than specialists, but they must also bear a penalty due to any imbalance in abilities. The predictions are tested using test scores data from the NLSY. The results show that individuals with balanced test scores across subjects are more likely to choose jobs in managerial, sales, and clerical occupations. In these occupations, individuals with more balanced test scores receive substantially higher earnings than those with unbalanced test scores. In contrast, individuals with highly unbalanced test scores are more likely to choose jobs in professional, craft, and operator occupations, although the extent of imbalance does not significantly affect earnings in these occupations.

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File URL: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/research/workingpapers/WP_05-2.pdf
File Function: First version, 2005
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 200502.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:200502

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Keywords: heterogeneous ability; occupational choice; cognitive skills; test scores;

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