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The cyclicality of skill acquisition: evidence from panel data

  • Facundo Sepulveda


  • Fabio Mendez


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    This paper presents new empirical evidence regarding the cyclicality of skill acquisition activities. The paper studies both training and schooling episodes at the individual level using quarterly data from the NLSY79 for a period of 19 years. We find that aggregate schooling is strongly countercyclical, while aggregate training is acyclical. Several training categories however behave procyclically. The results also indicate that firm-financed training is procyclical while training financed through other means is countercyclical; and that the cyclicality of skill acquisition investments depends significantly on the educational level and the employment status of the individual.

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    Paper provided by Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University in its series CAMA Working Papers with number 2011-13.

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    Length: 43 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:een:camaaa:2011-13
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, Building #132, Canberra ACT 2601
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    1. Feng, Shuaizhang, 2009. "Return to Training and Establishment Size: A Reexamination of the Size-Wage Puzzle," IZA Discussion Papers 4143, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Katja Görlitz, 2010. "The Development of Employers’ Training Investments Over Time – A Decomposition Analysis Using German Establishment Data," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 230(2), pages 186-207.
    3. repec:oup:restud:v:73:y:2006:i:1:p:145-162 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Helpman, Elhanan & Rangel, Antonio, 1999. " Adjusting to a New Technology: Experience and Training," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 359-83, December.
    5. Goerlitz, Katja, 2009. "The Development of Employers' Training Investments Over Time – A Decomposition Analysis Using German Establishment Data," Ruhr Economic Papers 87, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (RWI), Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    6. Dellas, Harris & Sakellaris, Plutarchos, 1996. "On the cyclicality of schooling: Theory and evidence," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 1997002, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    7. Daehaeng Kim & Chul-In Lee, 2007. "On-the-Job Human Capital Accumulation in a Real Business Cycle Model: Implications for Intertemporal Substitution Elasticity and Labor Hoarding," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(3), pages 494-518, July.
    8. Sakellaris, Plutarchos & Spilimbergo, Antonio, 2000. "Business cycles and investment in human capital: international evidence on higher education," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(1), pages 221-256, June.
    9. King, Ian & Sweetman, Arthur, 2002. "Procyclical Skill Retooling and Equilibrium," Working Papers 162, Department of Economics, The University of Auckland.
    10. Julian R. Betts & Laurel L. McFarland, 1995. "Safe Port in a Storm: The Impact of Labor Market Conditions on Community College Enrollments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(4), pages 741-765.
    11. Boyan Jovanovic, 2004. "Asymmetric Cycles," NBER Working Papers 10573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Dellas, Harris & Koubi, Vally, 2003. "Business cycles and schooling," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 843-859, November.
    13. Fukao, Kyoji & Otaki, Masayuki, 1993. "Accumulation of Human Capital and the Business Cycle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 73-99, February.
    14. Paul J. Devereux & Robert A. Hart, 2007. "The Spot Market Matters: Evidence On Implicit Contracts From Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 54(5), pages 661-683, November.
    15. Einarsson, Tor & Marquis, Milton H., 1997. "Home production with endogenous growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 551-569, August.
    16. Ian King & Arthur Sweetman, 2002. "Procyclical Skill Retooling and Equilibrium Search," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(3), pages 704-717, July.
    17. Robert Gibbons & Michael Waldman, 2006. "Enriching a Theory of Wage and Promotion Dynamics inside Firms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 59-108, January.
    18. David N. DeJong & Beth F. Ingram, 2001. "The Cyclical Behavior of Skill Acquisition," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(3), pages 536-561, July.
    19. Barron, John M & Berger, Mark C & Black, Dan A, 1997. "How Well Do We Measure Training?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 507-28, July.
    20. Perli, Roberto & Sakellaris, Plutarchos, 1998. "Human capital formation and business cycle persistence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 67-92, June.
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