How General is Specific Human Capital? Using Mobility Patterns to Study Skill Transferability in the Labor Market
Previous studies assume that labor market skills are either fully general or specific to a firm. This paper uses patterns in mobility and wages to the transferability of specific skills across occupations. The empirical analysis combines information on tasks performed in different occupations with a large panel on complete work 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. We calculate that task-specific human capital is an important source of wage growth, especially for university graduates
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