IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Measurement of labour quality growth caused by unobservable characteristics


  • Thomas Bolli
  • Mathias Zurlinden


The standard economy-wide indices of labour quality (or human capital) largely ignore the role of unobservable worker characteristics. In this article, we develop a methodology for identifying the contributions of both observable and unobservable worker characteristics in the presence of the incidental parameter problem. Based on data for Switzerland over the period 1991 to 2006, we find that a large part of growth in labour quality is caused by shifts in the distribution of unobservable worker characteristics. The overall index differs little from the standard indices, but contributions to growth attributed to education and age are corrected downwards.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Bolli & Mathias Zurlinden, 2012. "Measurement of labour quality growth caused by unobservable characteristics," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(18), pages 2297-2308, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:44:y:2012:i:18:p:2297-2308
    DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2011.564140

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel Aaronson & Daniel G. Sullivan, 2002. "Growth in worker quality," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Feb.
    2. John M. Abowd & Francis Kramarz & David N. Margolis, 1999. "High Wage Workers and High Wage Firms," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(2), pages 251-334, March.
    3. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
    4. Venetia Bell & Pablo Burriel-Llombart & Jerry Jones, 2005. "A quality-adjusted labour input series for the United Kingdom (1975-2002)," Bank of England working papers 280, Bank of England.
    5. Lancaster, Tony, 2000. "The incidental parameter problem since 1948," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 391-413, April.
    6. Guido Schwerdt & Jarkko Turunen, 2007. "Growth In Euro Area Labor Quality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(4), pages 716-734, December.
    7. Thomas Bolli & Mathias Zurlinden, 2009. "Measuring Growth of Labor Quality and the Quality-Adjusted Unemployment Rate in Switzerland," Applied Economics Quarterly (formerly: Konjunkturpolitik), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 55(2), pages 121-145.
    8. John M. Abowd & Paul A. Lengermann & Kevin L. McKinney, 2002. "The Measurement of Human Capital in the U.S. Economy," Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics Technical Papers 2002-09, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised Mar 2003.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Øivind A. Nilsen & Arvid Raknerud & Marina Rybalka & Terje Skjerpen, 2011. "The Importance Of Skill Measurement For Growth Accounting," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57(2), pages 293-305, June.
    2. Laura-Maria DINDIRE, 2012. "Assessment Model Of The Nations? Human Capital - The Case Of The Eu Countries," Management Strategies Journal, Constantin Brancoveanu University, vol. 18(4), pages 21-27.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:applec:44:y:2012:i:18:p:2297-2308. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.