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Occupational choice and development


  • Eeckhout, Jan
  • Jovanovic, Boyan


The rise in world trade since 1970 has been accompanied by a rise in the geographic span of control of management and, hence, also a rise in the effective international mobility of labor services. We study the effect of such a globalization of the worldʼs labor markets. The worldʼs welfare gains depend positively on the skill-heterogeneity of the worldʼs labor force. We find that when people can choose between wage work and managerial work, the worldwide labor market raises output by more in the rich and the poor countries, and by less in the middle-income countries. This is because the middle-income countries experience the smallest change in the factor-price ratio, and where the option to choose between wage work and managerial work has the least value in the integrated economy. Our theory also establishes that after economic integration, the high skill countries see a disproportionate increase in managerial occupations. Using aggregate data on GDP, openness and occupations from 115 countries, we find evidence for these patterns of occupational choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Eeckhout, Jan & Jovanovic, Boyan, 2012. "Occupational choice and development," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(2), pages 657-683.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:147:y:2012:i:2:p:657-683 DOI: 10.1016/j.jet.2011.01.002

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Emilio Congregado & Antonio Golpe & André Stel, 2014. "The role of scale economies in determining firm size in modern economies," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 52(2), pages 431-455, March.
    2. Luis Medrano-Adán & Vicente Salas-Fumás & J. Sanchez-Asin, 2015. "Heterogeneous entrepreneurs from occupational choices in economies with minimum wages," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 597-619, March.
    3. Vicente Salas-Fumás & J. Sanchez-Asin & David Storey, 2014. "Occupational choice, number of entrepreneurs and output: theory and empirical evidence with Spanish data," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 1-24, March.
    4. Pierre-Richard Agénor & Otaviano Canuto & Michael Jelenic, 2012. "Avoiding Middle-Income Growth Traps," World Bank - Economic Premise, The World Bank, issue 98, pages 1-7, November.
    5. Cakir Melek, Nida, 2014. "Productivity, nationalization, and the role of "news": lessons from the 1970s," Research Working Paper RWP 14-6, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    6. Acemoglu, Daron, 2012. "Introduction to economic growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(2), pages 545-550.
    7. Haryo Aswicahyono & Hal Hill, 2015. "Is Indonesia Trapped in the Middle?," Discussion Paper Series 31, Department of International Economic Policy, University of Freiburg, revised Aug 2015.

    More about this item


    Occupational choice; Mobility; Matching; Openness;

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • E25 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Aggregate Factor Income Distribution
    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General


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