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The Skills to Pay the Bills: Returns to On-the-job Soft Skills Training

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  • Achyuta Adhvaryu
  • Namrata Kala
  • Anant Nyshadham

Abstract

We evaluate the causal impacts of on-the-job soft skills training on the productivity, wages, and retention of female garment workers in India. The program increased women’s extraversion and communication, and spurred technical skill upgrading. Treated workers were 20 percent more productive than controls post-program. Wages rise very modestly with treatment (by 0.5 percent), with no differential turnover, suggesting that although soft skills raise workers’ marginal products, labor market frictions are large enough to create a substantial wedge between productivity and wages. Consistent with this, the net return to the firm was large: 258 percent eight months after program completion.

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  • Achyuta Adhvaryu & Namrata Kala & Anant Nyshadham, 2018. "The Skills to Pay the Bills: Returns to On-the-job Soft Skills Training," NBER Working Papers 24313, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24313
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    Cited by:

    1. David McKenzie, 2017. "How Effective Are Active Labor Market Policies in Developing Countries? A Critical Review of Recent Evidence," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 32(2), pages 127-154.
    2. Sharma, Smriti & Tarp, Finn, 2018. "Does managerial personality matter? Evidence from firms in Vietnam," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 432-445.
    3. Sauermann, Jan, 2015. "Worker Reciprocity and the Returns to Training: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 9179, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Oriana Bandiera & Niklas Buehren & Robin Burgess & Markus Goldstein & Selim Gulesci & Imran Rasul & Munshi Sulaiman, 2020. "Women's Empowerment in Action: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Africa," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 210-259, January.
    5. Adhvaryu, Achyuta & Bassi, Vittorio & Nyshadham, Anant & Tamayo, Jorge, 2020. "No Line Left Behind: Assortative Matching Inside the Firm," CEPR Discussion Papers 14554, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Daniela Sonedda, 2020. "Guess who's there: employment protection legislation and the degree of substitutability between labour contracts," IAAEU Discussion Papers 202007, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
    7. Livia Alfonsi & Oriana Bandiera & Vittorio Bassi & Robin Burgess & Imran Rasul & Munshi Sulaiman & Anna Vitali, 2020. "Tackling Youth Unemployment: Evidence From a Labor Market Experiment in Uganda," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(6), pages 2369-2414, November.
    8. Chakravarty, Shubha & Lundberg, Mattias & Nikolov, Plamen & Zenker, Juliane, 2019. "Vocational training programs and youth labor market outcomes: Evidence from Nepal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 71-110.
    9. Ashraf, Nava & Bau, Natalie & Low, Corinne & McGinn, Kathleen, 2018. "Negotiating a Better Future: How Interpersonal Skills Facilitate Inter-Generational Investment," CEPR Discussion Papers 12939, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Acevedo, Paloma & Cruces, Guillermo & Gertler, Paul & Martinez, Sebastian, 2020. "How vocational education made women better off but left men behind," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(C).
    11. Nava Ashraf & Natalie Bau & Corinne Low & Kathleen McGinn, 2018. "Negotiating a Better Future: How Interpersonal Skills Facilitate Inter-Generational Investment," Working Papers 2018-023, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    12. Dasgupta, Utteeyo & Mani, Subha & Sharma, Smriti & Singhal, Saurabh, 2020. "Effects of Peers and Rank on Cognition, Preferences, and Personality," GLO Discussion Paper Series 591, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    13. Lucas Figal Garone & Paula A. López Villalba & Alessandro Maffioli & Christian A. Ruzzier, 2020. "Productivity differences among firms in Latin American and the Caribbean," Working Papers 136, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Jan 2020.
    14. Chakravarty, Shubha & Lundberg, Mattias & Nikolov, Plamen & Zenker, Juliane, 2019. "Vocational training programs and youth labor market outcomes: Evidence from Nepal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 71-110.
    15. Achyuta Adhvaryu, 2018. "Managerial quality and worker productivity in developing countries," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 429-429, February.
    16. Araya, Federico & Le Barbanchon, Thomas & Ubfal, Diego, 2019. "The Effects of Working while in School: Evidence from Uruguayan Lotteries," CEPR Discussion Papers 13826, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Achyuta Adhvaryu & Anant Nyshadham & Jorge A. Tamayo, 2019. "Managerial Quality and Productivity Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 25852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Sharma, Smriti & Tarp, Finn, 2018. "Does managerial personality matter? Evidence from firms in Vietnam," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 432-445.
    19. Prada, María Fernanda & Rucci, Graciana & Urzúa, Sergio, 2019. "Training, Soft Skills and Productivity: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Retail," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 9647, Inter-American Development Bank.

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    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Training
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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