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How General Is Specific Human Capital?

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  • Gathmann, Christina

    ()
    (Heidelberg University)

  • Schönberg, Uta

    ()
    (University College London)

Abstract

Previous studies assume that labor market skills are either fully general or specific to the firm. This paper uses patterns in mobility and wages to analyze how portable specific skills are in the labor market. The empirical analysis combines data on tasks performed in different jobs with a large panel on complete working histories and wages. Our results demonstrate that labor market skills are partially transferable across occupations. We find that individuals move to occupations with similar task requirements and that the distance of moves declines with time in the labor market. Further, tenure in the last occupation affects current wages, and the effect is stronger if the two occupations are similar. Our estimates suggest that task-specific human capital is the most important source of wage growth for university graduates. For the low- and medium-skilled, returns to task human capital are also sizeable, though smaller than for labor market experience.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2485.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2485

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Keywords: specific skills; occupations; wage growth; mobility;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Gielen, A. C., 2007. "Performance Pay, Training and Labor Mobility," Discussion Paper, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research 2007-48, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  2. Bleakley, Hoyt & Lin, Jeffrey, 2012. "Thick-market effects and churning in the labor market: Evidence from US cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 87-103.
  3. Ronald Bachmann & Michael C. Burda, 2007. "Sectoral Transformation, Turbulence, and Labour Market Dynamics in Germany," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2007-008, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  4. Amann, R. & Klein, T.J., 2011. "Returns to Type or Tenure?," Discussion Paper, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research 2011-001, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  5. Shintaro Yamaguchi, 2013. "Changes in Returns to Task-Specific Skills and Gender Wage Gap," Department of Economics Working Papers 2013-01, McMaster University.
  6. Theodore Papageorgiou, 2009. "Learning Your Comparative Advantages," 2009 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 1150, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Shintaro Yamaguchi, 2007. "Career and Skill Formation: A Dynamic Occupational Choice Model with Multidimensional Skills," Department of Economics Working Papers 2007-02, McMaster University.

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