nep-hrm New Economics Papers
on Human Capital and Human Resource Management
Issue of 2007‒01‒13
eight papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
Universita degli Studi di Roma, La Sapienza

  1. The Role of Education in Economic Growth through the Sectoral Reallocation of Labor By Soohyung Lee
  2. How General is Specific Human Capital? Using Mobility Patterns to Study Skill Transferability in the Labor Market By Uta Schoenberg; Christina Gathmann
  3. Urbanization, Productivity and Innovation: Evidence from Investment in Higher Education By Roland Andersson; John Quigley; Mats Wilhelmsson
  4. Incentives to Learn By Michael Kremer; Edward Miguel; Rebecca Thorton
  5. The Role of the University in Attracting High Tech Entrepreneurship: A Silicon Valley Tale By David Huffman; John Quigley
  6. Cognitive Abilities and Labour Market Outcomes By Silke Anger; Guido Heineck
  7. Incentives for Schools, Educational Signals and Labour Market Outcomes By Uschi Backes-Gellner; Stephan Veen
  8. Conditional cash transfers and female schooling : the impact of the female school stipend program on public school enrollments in Punjab, Pakistan By Chaudhury, Nazmul; Parajuli, Dilip

  1. By: Soohyung Lee
    Abstract: The main questions of this paper are as follows: Whether and to what extent does rising educational attainment contribute to a country's economic growth by facilitating the reallocation of labor from the agricultural sector to the non-agricultural sector? The transition from the agricultural sector to the non-agricultural sector ("transition" hereinafter) is an important aspect of a country's development. Consider China as an example. In China, around 70% of the labor force worked in the agricultural sector in 1980, whereas only 47% remained in the agricultural sector in 2000. Over the same period of time, China's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita increased from U.S. $173 to $856. In addition, cross-country data demonstrate that developed countries have a lower share of employment in agriculture than less-developed countries. For instance, high income countries had 4% of their employees engaged in the agricultural sector in 2000, whereas middle income countries had 40% of their employees working in the agricultural sector. In low income countries, the share may be even larger: in Bangladesh, for example, more than 60% of employees work in the agricultural sector. Based on these empirical observations, using calibration exercises a number of papers have demonstrated the possibility that income differences across countries can be explained by different onsets of transition (Gollin et al. 2002, 2004, Parente et al. 2000, Restuccia et al. 2003). In contrast, there is little empirical research based on micro-level data studying the factors that affect the speed of transition. As far as I am aware, the most closely related empirical study of transition was carried out by Jeong and Kim (2005) using data for Thailand. However, the authors focused more on replicating gradual transition than on determinants governing the speed of transition. They relied on the assumption of “sector specific complementarity between work-experience and labor†to explain the slow transition, but did not provide direct empirical evidence for this assumption. In contrast to existing research, this paper tries to shed light on one hypothesized factor affecting the speed of transition: raising educational attainment may facilitate the labor force moving from the agricultural sector to the non-agricultural sector. I use a Chinese household panel dataset--the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS)--to measure the extent to which educational attainment raises the probability of a worker obtaining a non-agricultural job. To extract the causal effect of education, I use the increase in the number of secondary schools during the Cultural Revolution (CR) in China (1966 to 1976) as an instrumental variable. Reducing the differences between the peasantry and the rest of the population was identified as being a major goal of the CR; as a result of this ideology, the policies of this period promoted mass education among underserved groups, including rural populations especially in terms of the secondary schooling (Hannum 1999). My preliminary results suggest that one more secondary school per 10,000 people in a province is correlated with an increase in 1.15 years of schooling. Using a Probit model with this instrumental variable, I estimate that one more year of schooling raises the probability a worker will obtain a non-agricultural job by 4.53%. However, what does this estimation imply for transition and aggregate economic growth? In China, the share employed in agriculture has decreased from 68.1% in 1982 to 50% in 2000 (Chinese Statistical Yearbook, 2003). On the other hand, the average years of schooling of workers in China has increased from 5.83 years to 7.66 years (Chinese Population Census 1982, 2000). Hence, this increase in schooling, 1.84 years, may have contributed 8.34% points to the decrease in the agricultural share of employment from 1982 to 2000. In terms of the real GDP growth, accurate growth accounting requires further study. However, a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the decrease in the agricultural employment share due to rising educational attainment implies an increase of 0.65% points of the real GDP per worker growth per annum. Although the growth and level accounting remains to be done, I believe that this paper can contribute to the economic growth literature by testing whether and to what extent education causes growth. Within this research literature, many papers have suggested the possibility of a causal effect of education on growth, but a recent study by Bils and Klenow (2000) questions this causal relationship. For example, if we include the role of education in sectoral reallocation (0.65% point), the contribution of education to the annual growth rate of the real GDP per worker increases from about 20% to 32%. Therefore, we can conclude that education causes growth (at least 12%) and that its contribution to growth is significant
    Keywords: Education; Sectoral Shift; Transition; China
    JEL: O1 O5 I2 J6
    Date: 2006–12–03
  2. By: Uta Schoenberg (University of Rochester); Christina Gathmann
    Abstract: 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
    Keywords: Human Capital
    JEL: J24
    Date: 2006–12–03
  3. By: Roland Andersson (Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden); John Quigley (University of California, Berkeley); Mats Wilhelmsson (Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden)
    Abstract: During the past fifteen years, Swedish government policy has decentralized post-secondary education throughout the country. We investigate the economic effects of this decentralization policy on the level of productivity and innovation and their spatial distribution in the Swedish economy. We analyze productivity, measured as output per worker at the level of the locality, for 284 Swedish communities during a 14 year period, and innovation, measured by commercial patents awarded in 100 Swedish labor market areas during an 8 year period. These economic outcomes, together with data documenting the decentralization of university-based researchers, permit us to estimate the effects of exogenous changes in educational policy upon increases in productivity and the locus of innovative activity. We find important and significant effects of this policy upon economic output and the locus of knowledge production, suggesting that the decentralization has affected regional development through local innovation and increased creativity. Moreover, our evidence suggests that aggregate productivity was increased by the deliberate policy of decentralization.
    Date: 2006–07–13
  4. By: Michael Kremer (Department of Economics, Harvard University); Edward Miguel (Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley); Rebecca Thorton (Department of Economics, Harvard University)
    Abstract: We report results from a randomized evaluation of a merit scholarship program for adolescent girls in Kenya. Girls who scored well on academic exams had their school fees paid and received a cash grant for school supplies. Girls eligible for the scholarship showed significant gains in academic exam scores (average gain 0.12-0.19 standard deviations) and these gains persisted following the competition. There is also evidence of positive program externalities on learning: boys, who were ineligible for the awards, also showed sizeable average test gains, as did girls with low pretest scores, who were unlikely to win. Both student and teacher school attendance increased in the program schools. We discuss implications both for understanding the nature of educational production functions and for the policy debate surrounding merit scholarships.
    Keywords: Education, merit scholarships, externalities,
    Date: 2006–06–27
  5. By: David Huffman (University of California, Berkeley); John Quigley (University of California, Berkeley)
    Abstract: Among the many sorting functions provided by institutions of higher education, there is a geographic dimension. During the years spent as students and residents of local communities, students develop specific networks and contacts, and perhaps their tastes change as well. After graduation, these students may be more likely to reside in the locality or region in which they have been educated.This paper presents evidence which suggests that the university is important in attracting human capital to the local area and in stimulating entrepreneurial talent in the region.We also measure the strength of the impact of the university on geographical location in one specific instance. For post-graduate professional business and engineering students at Berkeley, we compare the spatial distribution of residences before attending the university and again after graduation.The results are suggestive of the importance of academic institutions in the geographic pattern of agglomerations of footloose scientific firms, such as those in the Silicon Valley just south of San Francisco. The results also reinforce the self-interested reasons for government investment in high-quality educational institutions, as measured by the return on the augmented human capital stock in the region.
    Date: 2006–06–27
  6. By: Silke Anger; Guido Heineck
    Abstract: We contribute to the literature on the relationship between cognitive abilities and labour market outcomes providing first evidence for Germany. In particular, cross-sectional data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) are used, which include two measures of cognitive ability, one test of fluid mechanics (speed test) and another test of crystallised pragmatics (word fluency test). We find a positive relationship between cognitive abilities and economic activity, as workers with high ability test scores are less likely to be unemployed. In addition, results from Mincer-type OLS and 2SLS regressions suggest that mechanics abilities are correlated with wages in a significantly positive way for West German workers, even when educational attainment is controlled for, whereas pragmatics of cognition do not affect earnings significantly. However, we also find that ability and education are inseparable determinants of earnings, which confirms findings of recent studies for other countries.
    Keywords: Cognitive ability, earnings regressions, returns to education, ability bias, unemployment probability
    JEL: J24 J31 I21
    Date: 2006
  7. By: Uschi Backes-Gellner (Institute for Strategy and Business Economics, University of Zurich); Stephan Veen (Institute for Strategy and Business Economics, University of Zurich)
    Abstract: Central exams have been discussed as an incentive to improve educational outcomes. In our paper we study the impact of central exams on labor market outcomes. We explain the quality choice of schools under central and non-central exams and model the resulting students’ schooling decisions and employers’ wage decisions. We use the German Abitur and the variation among the German federal states with respect to central exams as a quasi experimental design. We expect the ratio of Abitur holders to increase in states without central exams and their wage premiums to decrease at the same time. In states with central exams these effects should not occur. We test our implications with official statistics on education and with the GSOEP. The first two implications are born out in the data. Finally, explanations and policy recommendations are discussed.
    Keywords: Educational Economics, School choice, Incentives for Schools, Central Exams, Economic impact, Labor Market Outcome
    JEL: M51 J31
    Date: 2006–06
  8. By: Chaudhury, Nazmul; Parajuli, Dilip
    Abstract: Instead of mean-tested conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs, some countries have implemented gender-targeted CCTs to explicitly address intra-household disparities in human capital investments. This study focuses on addressing the direct impact of a female school stipend program in Punjab, Pakistan: Did the intervention increase female enrollment in public schools? To address this question, the authors draw on data from the provincial school censuses of 2003 and 2005. They estimate the net growth in female enrollments in grades 6-8 in stipend eligible schools. Impact evaluation analysis, including difference-and-difference (DD), triple differencing (DDD), and regression-discontinuity design (RDD) indicate a modest but statistically significant impact of the intervention. The preferred estimator derived from a combination of DDD and RDD empirical strategies suggests that the average program impact between 2003 and 2005 was an increase of six female students per school in terms of absolute change and an increase of 9 percent in female enrollment in terms of relative change. A triangulation effort is also undertaken using two rounds of a nationally representative household survey before and after the intervention. Even though the surveys are not representative at the subprovincial level, the results corroborate evidence of the impact using school census data.
    Keywords: Education For All,Primary Education,Tertiary Education,Gender and Education,Education Reform and Management
    Date: 2006–12–01

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