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How General is Specific Human Capital? Using Mobility Patterns to Study Skill Transferability in the Labor Market

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  • Uta Schoenberg

    ()
    (University of Rochester)

  • Christina Gathmann

Abstract

Previous studies assume that labor market skills are either fully general or specific to a firm. This paper uses patterns in mobility and wages to the transferability of specific skills across occupations. The empirical analysis combines information on tasks performed in different occupations with a large panel on complete work 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. We calculate that task-specific human capital is an important source of wage growth, especially for university graduates

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2006 Meeting Papers with number 598.

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Date of creation: 03 Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed006:598

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Keywords: Human Capital;

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  1. Iourii Manovskii & Gueorgui Kambourov, 2004. "Occupational Specificity of Human Capital," 2004 Meeting Papers 197, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Brian P. McCall, 1988. "Occupational Matching: A Test of Sorts," Working Papers 617, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Gibbons, Robert & Waldman, Michael, 2003. "Enriching a Theory of Wage and Promotion Dynamics Inside Firms," Working papers 4324-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  4. Kletzer, Lori Gladstein, 1989. "Returns to Seniority after Permanent Job Loss," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 536-43, June.
  5. Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2006. "Technical Change, Job Tasks, and Rising Educational Demands: Looking outside the Wage Structure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(2), pages 235-270, April.
  6. Joseph Altonji & R. Shakotko, 1985. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority?," Working Papers 567, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. Kambourov, Gueorgui & Manovskii, Iourii, 2004. "Occupational Mobility and Wage Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 1189, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Ronni Pavan, 2006. "Career Choice and Wage Growth," 2006 Meeting Papers 504, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Joseph G. Altonji & Nicolas Williams, 2005. "Do wages rise with job seniority? A reassessment," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(3), pages 370-397, April.
  10. Rosen, Sherwin, 1983. "Specialization and Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 43-49, January.
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