IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Interpreting Europe and US labor markets differences : the specificity of human capital investments

  • Etienne Wasmer

We show a fundamental property of human capital investments : they are not independent of the aggregate state of labor markets. In particular, frictions and slackness of the labor market raise the returns to specific human capital investments relative to general investments. This is a property that Becker’s seminal contribution in the context of perfect labor markets did not consider. We then build a macroeconomic model where in equilibrium emerge different regimes. In the G-regime, workers invest in general skills. This occurs when they face high turnover labor markets and in the absence of employment protection. The S-regime in which workers invest in skills specific to their job appears when employment protection is high enough. Low job turnover is both a cause and a consequence of specific investments in human capital. This paper then re-interprets Europe-US differences in arguing that the US are closer to the G-regime and Continental Europe to the S-regime. This conjecture provides, among other things, a rationale for differences in labor mobility and reallocation costs, which are typically ignored in American ’International Trade’ textbooks while considered as extremely large in the public debate in Europe. In a S-regime, mobility costs are high and transitions between steady-states have especially strong adverse effects. On the other hand, in the steady-state, workers in the S-regimes are very productive. Each regime has thus its own coherence, although the European type incurs higher transition costs when macroeconomic conditions change.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://spire.sciencespo.fr/hdl:/2441/8904/resources/wasmer-europe-us-revaer.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number info:hdl:2441/8904.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Jun 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in American Economic Review, 2006, vol. 96, pp.811-831
Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/8904
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.sciencespo.fr/

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J, 2002. "The European Employment Experience," CEPR Discussion Papers 3543, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Malcomson, J., 1998. "Individual employment contracts," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9804, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  3. bertola, G. & Rogerson, R., 1996. "Institutions and Labor Reallocation," Papers 272, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  4. Burda, Michael C, 1992. " A Note on Firing Costs and Severance Benefits in Equilibrium Unemployment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 94(3), pages 479-89.
  5. Abraham, Katharine G & Farber, Henry S, 1987. "Job Duration, Seniority, and Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 278-97, June.
  6. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2000. "The Political Economy of Labour Market Institutions," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293323, March.
  7. Bertola, Giuseppe & Ichino, Andrea, 1995. "Wage Inequality and Unemployment: US vs Europe," CEPR Discussion Papers 1186, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1998. "The Structure of Wages and Investment in General Training," NBER Working Papers 6357, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Kletzer, Lori Gladstein, 1989. "Returns to Seniority after Permanent Job Loss," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 536-43, June.
  10. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J., 1997. "The European Unemployment Dilemma," Working Paper Series 481, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  11. Lazear, Edward P, 1990. "Job Security Provisions and Employment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(3), pages 699-726, August.
  12. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1999. "Job Reallocation, Employment Fluctuations and Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0421, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  13. Lori G. Kletzer, 1998. "Job Displacement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 115-136, Winter.
  14. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1993. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0110, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  15. Blanchard, Olivier & Wolfers, Justin, 2000. "The Role of Shocks and Institutions in the Rise of European Unemployment: The Aggregate Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(462), pages C1-33, March.
  16. John Hassler & José Vicente Rodríguez Mora & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2003. "A Positive Theory of Geographic Mobility and Social Insurance," Working Papers 86, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  17. A. Lefranc, 2002. "Labor Market Dynamics and Wage Losses of Displaced Workers in France and the United-States," THEMA Working Papers 2002-15, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  18. Robert H. Topel, 1990. "Specific Capital, Mobility, and Wages: Wages Rise with Job Seniority," NBER Working Papers 3294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Grégory Jolivet & Fabien Postel-Vinay & Jean-Marc Robin, 2003. "Wage distributions and wage dynamics in Europe and the US : lessons from a simple job search model," Research Unit Working Papers 0302, Laboratoire d'Economie Appliquee, INRA.
  20. Rogerson, Richard & Schindler, Martin, 2002. "The welfare costs of worker displacement," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1213-1234, September.
  21. Decressin, Jorg & Fatas, Antonio, 1995. "Regional labor market dynamics in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(9), pages 1627-1655, December.
  22. Hashimoto, Masanori & Raisian, John, 1985. "Employment Tenure and Earnings Profiles in Japan and the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 721-35, September.
  23. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1998. "Beyond Becker: Training in Imperfect Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 6740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  25. Altonji, Joseph G & Shakotko, Robert A, 1987. "Do Wages Rise with Job Seniority?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 437-59, July.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/8904. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Spire @ Sciences Po Library)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.