How General is Specific Human Capital?

57 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2006

See all articles by Christina Gathmann

Christina Gathmann

Luxembourg Institute for Socio-Economic Research; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Uta Schönberg

University of Rochester; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: December 2006

Abstract

Previous studies assume that labor market skills are either fully general or specific to the firm. This paper uses patterns in mobility and wages to analyze how portable specific skills are in the labor market. The empirical analysis combines data on tasks performed in different jobs with a large panel on complete working 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. Our estimates suggest that task-specific human capital is the most important source of wage growth for university graduates. For the low- and medium-skilled, returns to task human capital are still sizeable, though smaller than for labor market experience.

Keywords: Specific Human Capital, Wage Growth, Mobility, Occupations

JEL Classification: J24, J41, J62

Suggested Citation

Gathmann, Christina and Schönberg, Uta, How General is Specific Human Capital? (December 2006). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2485, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=947274

Christina Gathmann (Contact Author)

Luxembourg Institute for Socio-Economic Research ( email )

11, Porte des Sciences
Campus Belval – Maison des Sciences Humaines
Esch-sur-Alzette, L-4366
Luxembourg

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/index_html?lang=en&mainframe=http%3A//www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos%

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~cgathman

Uta Schönberg

University of Rochester ( email )

Rochester, NY 14627
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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