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How General Is Specific Human Capital?

Author

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  • Gathmann, Christina

    () (Heidelberg University)

  • Schönberg, Uta

    () (University College London)

Abstract

Previous studies assume that labor market skills are either fully general or specific to the firm. This paper uses patterns in mobility and wages to analyze how portable specific skills are in the labor market. The empirical analysis combines data on tasks performed in different jobs with a large panel on complete working histories and wages. Our results demonstrate that labor market skills are partially transferable across occupations. We find that individuals move to occupations with similar task requirements and that the distance of moves declines with time in the labor market. Further, tenure in the last occupation affects current wages, and the effect is stronger if the two occupations are similar. Our estimates suggest that task-specific human capital is the most important source of wage growth for university graduates. For the low- and medium-skilled, returns to task human capital are also sizeable, though smaller than for labor market experience.

Suggested Citation

  • Gathmann, Christina & Schönberg, Uta, 2006. "How General Is Specific Human Capital?," IZA Discussion Papers 2485, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2485
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Shintaro Yamaguchi, 2007. "Career and Skill Formation: A Dynamic Occupational Choice Model With Multidimensional Skills," 2007 Meeting Papers 729, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Ronald Bachmann & Michael C. Burda, 2010. "Sectoral Transformation, Turbulence and Labor Market Dynamics in Germany," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11, pages 37-59, February.
    3. Schüssler, Reinhard & Seidel, Christian, 2010. "Gale Shapley auf dem Arbeitsmarkt," EconStor Preprints 55829, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    4. Shintaro Yamaguchi, 2013. "Changes in Returns to Task-Specific Skills and Gender Wage Gap," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd12-275, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    5. Bleakley, Hoyt & Lin, Jeffrey, 2012. "Thick-market effects and churning in the labor market: Evidence from US cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 87-103.
    6. Acemoglu, Daron & Autor, David, 2011. "Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    7. Roland A. Amann & Tobias J. Klein, 2012. "Returns to type or tenure?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 175(1), pages 153-166, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    specific skills; occupations; wage growth; mobility;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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