Long-run costs of piecemeal reform: wage inequality and returns to education in Vietnam
“Shock therapy” transitions in Eastern Europe facilitated movement of skilled workers into privatized industries offering high wage premia relative to state industries. Other transitional economies (notably China and Vietnam) have been slower to relinquish control over key industries and factor markets. Some costs of this piecemeal approach are now becoming apparent. We examine the spillover of continuing capital market distortions into the market for a complementary factor, skilled labor. Using Vietnamese data we find that capital market segmentation creates a two-track market for skills, in which state sector workers earn high salaries while non-state workers face lower demand and lower compensation. Growth is reduced directly by diminished allocative efficiency and incentives to acquire education, and indirectly by higher wage inequality and rents for workers with access to state jobs.
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