Generalists and Specialists, Ability and Earnings
The comparative advantage model developed in this paper predicts generalists enjoy a higher rate of return to their overall abilities than specialists, but they must also bear a penalty due to any imbalance in abilities. The predictions are tested using test scores data from the NLSY. The results show that individuals with balanced test scores across subjects are more likely to choose jobs in managerial, sales, and clerical occupations. In these occupations, individuals with more balanced test scores receive substantially higher earnings than those with unbalanced test scores. In contrast, individuals with highly unbalanced test scores are more likely to choose jobs in professional, craft, and operator occupations, although the extent of imbalance does not significantly affect earnings in these occupations.
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