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Why Didn’t the College Premium Rise Everywhere? Employment Protection and On-the-Job Investment in Skills

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  • Matthias Doepke
  • Ruben Gaetani

Abstract

Why has the college wage premium risen rapidly in the United States since the 1980s, but not in European economies such as Germany? We argue that differences in employment protection can account for much of the gap. We develop a model in which firms and workers make relationship-specific investments in skill accumulation. The incentive to invest is stronger when employment protection creates an expectation of long-lasting matches. We argue that changes in the economic environment have reduced relationship-specific investment for less-educated workers in the United States, but not for better-protected workers in Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Doepke & Ruben Gaetani, 2020. "Why Didn’t the College Premium Rise Everywhere? Employment Protection and On-the-Job Investment in Skills," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1093, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp1093
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    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • 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
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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