IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Are Specific Skills an Obstacle to Labor Market Adjustment? Theory and an Application to the EU Enlargement

  • Ana Lamo

    (DG Reseach)

  • Julian Messina

    (Universitat de Girona)

  • Etienne Wasmer

We argue that the existence of large amounts of specific human capital makes costly and slows down the adjustment in the labor market after large reallocation shocks. To illustrate this point we build a theoretical framework in which young agents’ career is heavily determined by initial education, and analyze the transition to a new steady-state after a sectoral demand shift. An interesting case study is the EU enlargement, which led to modernization of many sectors in eastern countries and to a fast decline of traditional industries. Using labor force data from a large economy with rigid labor markets, Poland, and a small open economy with increased flexibility, Estonia, we document and find support for our claim. Quantitative exercises suggest that the overspecializaton of the labor force in Poland explain to a large extent the much higher and persistent unemployment compared to Estonia during the period of EU enlargement.

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:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Sciences Po in its series Sciences Po publications with number 585.

in new window

Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/9041
Contact details of provider: Web page:

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. Wasmer, Etienne, 2002. "Interpreting Europe and US labor markets differences: the specificity of human capital investments," Arbetsrapport 2003:9, Institute for Futures Studies.
  2. Stefan Bender & Christian Dustmann & David Margolis & Costas Meghir, 1999. "Worker displacement in France and Germany," IFS Working Papers W99/14, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  3. Saint-Paul, Gilles, 2005. "Making Sense of Bolkestein-Bashing: Trade Liberalization Under Segmented Labour Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 5100, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. David Margolis, 1999. "Worker Displacement in France," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00370589, HAL.
  5. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  6. Ljungqvist, Lars & Sargent, Thomas J., 1997. "The European Unemployment Dilemma," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 178, Stockholm School of Economics.
  7. Boeri, Tito & Burda, Michael C., 1996. "Active labor market policies, job matching and the Czech miracle," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 805-817, April.
  8. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1984. "The Costs of Worker Displacement," NBER Working Papers 1495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Haltiwanger, John C. & Vodopivec, Milan, 2002. "Gross worker and job flows in a transition economy: an analysis of Estonia," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(5), pages 601-630, November.
  10. Dale T. Mortensen & Christopher A. Pissarides, 1999. "Job Reallocation, Employment Fluctuations and Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0421, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  11. Feenstra, Robert C. & Lewis, Tracy R., 1994. "Trade adjustment assistance and Pareto gains from trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3-4), pages 201-222, May.
  12. repec:pal:imfstp:v:45:y:1998:i:2:p:269-308 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Messina, Julian, 2006. "The role of product market regulations in the process of structural change," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(7), pages 1863-1890, October.
  14. Willem H. Buiter, 1984. "Saddlepoint Problems in Contifuous Time Rational Expectations Models: A General Method and Some Macroeconomic Ehamples," NBER Technical Working Papers 0020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. repec:pri:indrel:400 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Richard Rogerson, 2007. "Structural Transformation and the Deterioration of European Labor Market Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 12889, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Sargent, Thomas J & Wallace, Neil, 1973. "The Stability of Models of Money and Growth with Perfect Foresight," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(6), pages 1043-48, November.
  18. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00354397 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Gérard Roland, 2000. "Transition and Economics: Politics, Markets, and Firms," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262182033, March.
  20. Michael C. Burda & Jennifer Hunt, 2001. "From Reunification to Economic Integration: Productivity and the Labor Market in Eastern Germany," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 1-92.
  21. Marimon, Ramon & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 1996. "'Actual' versus 'Virtual' Employment in Europe: Is Spain Different?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1427, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  22. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
  23. repec:fth:prinin:400 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Leamer, Edward E., 1980. "Welfare computations and the optimal staging of tariff reductions in models with adjustment costs," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 21-36, February.
  25. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Kahn, Charles M, 1980. "The Solution of Linear Difference Models under Rational Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(5), pages 1305-11, July.
  26. 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.
  27. Henry S. Farber, 1998. "Mobility and Stability: The Dynamics of Job Change in Labor Markets," Working Papers 779, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  28. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1987. "The Costs of Worker Displacement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(1), pages 51-75.
  29. Acemoglu, Daron, 2001. "Good Jobs versus Bad Jobs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 1-21, January.
  30. Richard Rogerson, 2005. "Sectoral Shocks, Specific Human Capital and Displaced Workers," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(1), pages 89-105, January.
  31. Pietro Garibaldi & Zuzana Brixiova, 1997. "Labor Market Institutions and Unemployment Dynamics in Transition Economies," IMF Working Papers 97/137, International Monetary Fund.
  32. Pissarides, Christopher A, 1985. "Short-run Equilibrium Dynamics of Unemployment Vacancies, and Real Wages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 676-90, September.
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:2441/9041. 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.