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Human Capital and Competition: Strategic Complementarities in Firm-based Training


  • Margaret Stevens


Vocational training systems differ markedly between countries. A model of firm-based human capital investment predicts equilibria characterised by particular patterns of training and job-to-job mobility, consistent with observed cross-country differences. Incentives to invest in human capital are determined jointly with labour turnover and the intensity of competition between employers for skilled workers, and the dependence of labour market conditions on human capital leads to strategic complementarity between training decisions. Depending on the extent of market frictions and match heterogeneity, we may expect to see either equilibria characterised by general training, steep wage profiles and high mobility; or equilibria in which both general and specific investment may occur, but turnover is low and wage profiles are relatively flat. Multiple equilibria are possible, in which case high turnover equilibria generate higher welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Margaret Stevens, 2012. "Human Capital and Competition: Strategic Complementarities in Firm-based Training," Economics Series Working Papers 629, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:629

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daron Acemoglu & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 1998. "Why Do Firms Train? Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 79-119.
    2. Mohrenweiser, Jens & Zwick, Thomas, 2009. "Why do firms train apprentices? The net cost puzzle reconsidered," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 631-637, December.
    3. Clark, Damon & Fahr, René, 2001. "The Promise of Workplace Training for Non-College-Bound Youth: Theory and Evidence from German Apprenticeship," IZA Discussion Papers 378, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Scoones, David, 2000. "Matching and competition for human capital," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 135-152, March.
    5. Anke S. Kessler & Christoph Lülfesmann, 2006. "The Theory of Human Capital Revisited: on the Interaction of General and Specific Investments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(514), pages 903-923, October.
    6. Bassanini, Andrea & Booth, Alison L. & Brunello, Giorgio & De Paola, Maria & Leuven, Edwin, 2005. "Workplace Training in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 1640, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Parent, Daniel, 1999. "Wages and Mobility: The Impact of Employer-Provided Training," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 298-317, April.
    8. Derek Laing & Theodore Palivos & Ping Wang, 1995. "Learning, Matching and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 115-129.
    9. Maki, Taichi & Yotsuya, Koichi & Yagi, Tadashi, 2005. "Economic growth and the riskiness of investment in firm-specific skills," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 1033-1049, May.
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    More about this item


    Human capital; labor turnover; specific training; general training; search; matching;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs

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