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Brains versus Brawn: Labor Market Returns to Intellectual and Health Human Capital in a Poor Developing Country

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  • Jere R. Behrman
  • John Hoddinott
  • John A. Maluccio

    ()

  • Reynaldo Martorell

Abstract

Previous studies report that adult height has significant associations with wages even controlling for schooling. But schooling and height are imperfect measures of adult cognitive skills (“brains”) and strength (“brawn”); further they are not exogenous. Analysis of rich Guatemalan longitudinal data over 35 years finds that proximate determinants—adult reading comprehension skills and fat-free body mass—have significantly positive associations with wages, but only brains, and not brawn, is significant when both human capital measures are treated as endogenous. Even in a poor developing economy in which strength plausibly has rewards, labor market returns are increased by brains, not brawn.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Middlebury College, Department of Economics in its series Middlebury College Working Paper Series with number 0907.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0907

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Hoddinott, John & Maluccio, John & Behrman, Jere R. & Martorell, Reynaldo & Melgar, Paul & Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Ramirez-Zea, Manuel & Stein, Aryeh D. & Yount, Kathryn M., 2011. "The consequences of early childhood growth failure over the life course:," IFPRI discussion papers 1073, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Mark M. Pitt & Mark Rosenzweig & Nazmul Hassan, 2010. "Human Capital Investment and the Gender Division of Labor," Working Papers 989, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  3. Janet Currie & Tom Vogl, 2012. "Early-Life Health and Adult Circumstance in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 18371, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Vogl, Tom S., 2014. "Height, skills, and labor market outcomes in Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 84-96.
  5. Hoffmann, Vivian, 2009. "What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: Micronutrient Content and Fungal Contamination of Foods in Developing Countries," Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, Northeastern Agricultural and Resource Economics Association, vol. 38(2), October.
  6. Elisabetta De Cao, 2010. "The Height Production Function from Birth to Early Adulthood," CEIS Research Paper 165, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 28 May 2010.

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