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A Test of the ?Use it or Lose It? Hypothesis in Labour Markets around the World/Una prueba de la hipótesis "usarlo o perderlo" en los mercados de trabajo del mundo



    () (SFI - The Danish National Centre for Social Research, Herluf Trolles Gade 11, 1052 København K, Denmark.)


This paper investigates skills and the use of skills at work in 21 OECD countries. The skills included in the analysis are literacy, numeracy and problem-solving. The paper investigates the conjecture that the deterioration of skills with age might be more pronounced in occupations with a limited use of skills than in occupations with more intensive use of these skills - an implication of the ?use it or lose it? hypothesis. The paper examines the development over age of both measured skills and the use of skills at work in two aggregate categories of occupations: a group of high-skilled workers (ISCO major occupations from 0 to 4) and a group of low-skilled workers (ISCO major occupations from 5 to 9). High-skilled workers have higher measured skills than low-skilled workers and high-skilled workers use skills more at work than low-skilled workers. Measured skills decline from the age of 35 both for high- and low-skilled workers at about the same pace. The use of skills at work also declines from the age of 35 for both high-skilled workers and low-skilled workers at about the same pace, and at about the same rate as measured skills. The evidence does not support the ?use it or lose it? hypothesis. Este artículo investiga las habilidades y el uso de habilidades en el trabajo en 21 países de la OCDE. Las habilidades incluidas en el análisis son la escritura, el cálculo y la resolución de problemas. El trabajo investiga la hipótesis de que el deterioro de las habilidades con la edad podría ser más pronunciado en ocupaciones con un uso limitado de las competencias que en ocupaciones con un uso más intensivo de estas habilidades - una implicación de la hipótesis de "usarlo o perderlo". El documento analiza la evolución con la edad del nivel de las habilidades consideradas y el uso de las mismas en el trabajo en dos categorías agregadas de ocupaciones: un grupo de trabajadores altamente cualificados (ISCO principales ocupaciones de 0 a 4) y un grupo de trabajadores de baja calificación (ISCO principales ocupaciones de 5 a 9). Los trabajadores altamente cualificados tienen un nivel de habilidades más alto que los trabajadores poco cualificados y los trabajadores altamente cualificados utilizan más habilidades en el trabajo que los trabajadores poco cualificados. El nivel de habilidades disminuye a partir de los 35 años tanto para los trabajadores de alta y de baja cualificación al mismo ritmo. El uso de las habilidades en el trabajo también se reduce desde la edad de 35 años tanto para los trabajadores altamente cualificados y los trabajadores poco cualificados al mismo ritmo, y más o menos al mismo ritmo que el nivel de las mismas. La evidencia no apoya la hipótesis de "usarlo o perderlo".

Suggested Citation

  • Albæk, Karsten, 2016. "A Test of the ?Use it or Lose It? Hypothesis in Labour Markets around the World/Una prueba de la hipótesis "usarlo o perderlo" en los mercados de trabajo del mundo," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 34, pages 323-352, Mayo.
  • Handle: RePEc:lrk:eeaart:34_2_3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Per-Anders Edin & Magnus Gustavsson, 2008. "Time Out of Work and Skill Depreciation," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 61(2), pages 163-180, January.
    2. Green, David A. & Riddell, W. Craig, 2013. "Ageing and literacy skills: Evidence from Canada, Norway and the United States," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 16-29.
    3. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-229, April.
    4. Hanushek, Eric A. & Schwerdt, Guido & Wiederhold, Simon & Woessmann, Ludger, 2015. "Returns to skills around the world: Evidence from PIAAC," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 103-130.
    5. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    6. Susann Rohwedder & Robert J. Willis, 2010. "Mental Retirement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 119-138, Winter.
    7. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-1177, September.
    8. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
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    More about this item


    Habilidades; ocupaciones; envejecimiento ; Skills; Occupations; Ageing.;

    JEL classification:

    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination


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