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Human Capital and Career Success: Evidence from Linked Employer-Employee Data

  • Frederiksen, Anders


    (Aarhus University)

  • Kato, Takao


    (Colgate University)

Denmark's registry data provide accurate and complete career history data along with detailed personal characteristics (e.g., education, gender, work experience, tenure and others) for the population of Danish workers longitudinally. By using such data from 1992 to 2002, we provide rigorous evidence for the first time for the population of workers in an entire economy (as opposed to case study evidence) on the effects of the nature and scope of human capital on career success (measured by appointments to top management). First, we confirm the beneficial effect of acquiring general human capital formally through schooling for career success, as well as the gender gap in career success rates. Second, broadening the scope of human capital by experiencing various occupations (becoming a generalist) is found to be advantageous for career success. Third, initial human capital earned through formal schooling and subsequent human capital obtained informally on the job are found to be complements in the production of career success. Fourth, though there is a large body of the literature on the relationship between firm-specific human capital and wages, the relative value of firm-specific human capital has been rarely studied in the context of career success. We find that it is more beneficial to broaden the breadth of human capital within the firm than without, pointing to the significance of firm-specific human capital for career success.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5764.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5764
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  1. Gibbons, Robert & Waldman, Michael, 2003. "Enriching a Theory of Wage and Promotion Dynamics Inside Firms," Working papers 4324-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  2. Francine Blau & Jed DeVaro, 2006. "New Evidence on Gender Differences in Promotion Rates: An Empirical Analysis of a Sample of New Hires," Working Papers 891, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Nina Smith & Valdemar Smith & Mette Verne, 2011. "The gender pay gap in top corporate jobs in Denmark: Glass ceilings, sticky floors or both?," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 32(2), pages 156-177, May.
  4. Frederiksen, Anders & Halliday, Timothy J. & Koch, Alexander K., 2010. "Within- and Cross-Firm Mobility and Earnings Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 5163, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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