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Who gains when workers train? Training and corporate productivity in a panel of British industries

  • John Van Reenen

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

There is a vast empirical literature of the effects of training on wages that are taken as an indirect measure of productivity. This paper is part of a smaller literature on the effects of training on direct measures of industrial productivity. We analyse a panel of British industries between 1983 and 1996. Training information (and other individual productivity indicators such as education and experience) is derived from a question that has been asked consistently over time in the Labour Force Survey. This is combined with complementary industry-level data sources on value added, wages, labour and capital. We use a variety of panel data techniques (including system GMM) to argue that training significantly boosts productivity. The existing literature has underestimated the full effects of training for two reasons. First, it has tended to treat training as exogenous whereas in reality firms may choose to re-allocate workers to training when demand (and therefore productivity) is low. Secondly, our estimates of the effects of training on wages are about half the size of the effects on industrial productivity. It is misleading to ignore the pay-off firms take in higher profits from training. The effects are economically large. For example, raising the proportion of workers trained in an industry by 5 percentage points (say from the average of 10% to 15%) is associated with a 4 per cent increase in value added per worker and a 1.6 per cent increase in wages.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W00/04.

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Length: 69 pp
Date of creation: Apr 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:00/04
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  1. David G. Blanchflower & Lisa M. Lynch, 1992. "Training at Work: A Comparison of U.S. and British Youths," NBER Working Papers 4037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Casey Ichniowski, 1990. "Human Resource Management Systems and the Performance of U.S. Manufacturing Businesses," NBER Working Papers 3449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Acemoglu, Daron & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 1998. "The Structure of Wages and Investment in General Training," CEPR Discussion Papers 1833, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Steven McIntosh, 1999. "A Cross-Country Comparison of the Determinants of Vocational Training," CEP Discussion Papers dp0432, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. F Green, 1996. "Skill, Training, Organisational Commitment and Unemployment: The Economics of a Labour Strategy Management," CEP Discussion Papers dp0313, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Griffith, Rachel, 1999. "Using the ARD Establishment Level Data to Look at Foreign Ownership and Productivity in the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F416-42, June.
  8. S Black & L Lynch, 1997. "How to Compete: The Impact of Workplace Practices and Information Technology on Productivity," CEP Discussion Papers dp0376, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Black, Sandra E & Lynch, Lisa M, 1996. "Human-Capital Investments and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 263-67, May.
  10. Lynch, Lisa M, 1992. "Private-Sector Training and the Earnings of Young Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 299-312, March.
  11. Nickell, Stephen J, 1981. "Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(6), pages 1417-26, November.
  12. Redding, Stephen, 1996. "The Low-Skill, Low-Quality Trap: Strategic Complementarities between Human Capital and R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(435), pages 458-70, March.
  13. John Bishop, 1994. "The Impact of Previous Training on Productivity and Wages," NBER Chapters, in: Training and the Private Sector: International Comparisons, pages 161-200 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Wiji Arulampalam & Alison L. Booth & Mark L. Bryan, 2004. "Training in Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 346-360, 04/05.
  15. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1999. "How Large are the Social Returns to Education? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws," Working papers 99-30, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  16. Alba-Ramirez, Alfonso, 1994. "Formal Training, Temporary Contracts, Productivity and Wages in Spain," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 56(2), pages 151-70, May.
  17. Stevens, Margaret, 1994. "A Theoretical Model of On-the-Job Training with Imperfect Competition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(4), pages 537-62, October.
  18. repec:sae:niesru:v:130:y::i:1:p:52-74 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Booth, Alison L, 1993. "Private Sector Training and Graduate Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(1), pages 164-70, February.
  20. Jacob Mincer, 1994. "Investment in U.S. Education and Training," NBER Working Papers 4844, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Booth, Alison L, 1991. "Job-Related Formal Training: Who Receives It and What Is It Worth?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 53(3), pages 281-94, August.
  22. Winkelmann, Rainer, 1994. "Training, Earnings and Mobility in Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 982, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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