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General Education, Vocational Education, and Labor-Market Outcomes over the Life-Cycle

  • Eric A. Hanushek
  • Ludger Woessmann
  • Lei Zhang

Policy debates about the balance of vocational and general education programs focus on the school-to-work transition. But with rapid technological change, gains in youth employment from vocational education may be offset by less adaptability and thus diminished employment later in life. To test our main hypothesis that any relative labor-market advantage of vocational education decreases with age, we employ a difference-in-differences approach that compares employment rates across different ages for people with general and vocational education. Using micro data for 18 countries from the International Adult Literacy Survey, we find strong support for the existence of such a trade-off, which is most pronounced in countries emphasizing apprenticeship programs. Results are robust to accounting for ability patterns and to propensity-score matching.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17504.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17504
Note: ED LS PE
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  1. Paul Ryan, 2001. "The School-to-Work Transition: A Cross-National Perspective: Corrigendum," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 767-767, September.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 1996. "Why do Firms Train? Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 1460, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Fersterer, Josef & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2007. "Returns to Apprenticeship Training in Austria: Evidence from Failed Firms," Economics Series 215, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  4. Eric A. Hanushek & Lei Zhang, 2006. "Quality-Consistent Estimates of International Returns to Skill," NBER Working Papers 12664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  6. Oosterbeek, Hessel & Webbink, Dinand, 2007. "Wage effects of an extra year of basic vocational education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 408-419, August.
  7. Heiko Steffens, 2010. "OECD. (2009). Promoting Consumer Education—Trends, Policies and Good Practices. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. ISBN 978-92-64-06008-1. 189 pp., 30.00 EUR," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 33(3), pages 291-292, September.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1998. "Beyond Becker: Training in Imperfect Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 6740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Julian Ramajo & Montserrat Ferre, 2010. "Purchasing power parity revisited: evidence from old and new tests for an organisation for economic co-operation and development panel," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(17), pages 2243-2260.
  10. Dirk Krueger & Krishna B. Kumar, 2003. "US-Europe Differences in Technology-Driven Growth: Quantifying the Role of Education," NBER Working Papers 10001, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Ludwig, Volker & Pfeiffer, Friedhelm, 2005. "Abschreibungsraten allgemeiner und beruflicher Ausbildungsinhalte," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-36, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  12. Dirk Krueger & Krishna B. Kumar, 2004. "Skill-Specific rather than General Education: A Reason for US--Europe Growth Differences?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 167-207, 06.
  13. Paul Ryan, 2001. "The School-to-Work Transition: A Cross-National Perspective," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(1), pages 34-92, March.
  14. Volker Ludwig & Friedhelm Pfeiffer, 2006. "Abschreibungsraten allgemeiner und beruflicher Ausbildungsinhalte - empirische Evidenz auf Basis subjektiver Einschätzungen," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 226(3), pages 260-284, May.
  15. Eric A. Hanushek & Lei Zhang, 2009. "Quality-Consistent Estimates of International Schooling and Skill Gradients," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(2), pages 107-143.
  16. Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), 2011. "Handbook of the Economics of Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3, June.
  17. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2010. "General Education versus Vocational Training: Evidence from an Economy in Transition," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 43-60, February.
  18. Wolter, Stefan C. & Ryan, Paul, 2011. "Apprenticeship," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
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