How General is Human Capital? A Task-Based Approach

57 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2007

See all articles by Christina Gathmann

Christina Gathmann

Alfred-Weber Institut; 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: September 2007

Abstract

This paper studies how portable skill accumulated in the labor market are. Using rich data on tasks performed in occupations, we propose the concept of task-specific human capital to measure the transferability of skills empirically. Our results on occupational mobility and wages show that labor market skills are more portable than previously considered. We find that individuals move to occupations with similar task requirements and that the distance of moves declines with time in the labor market. We also show that task-specific human capital is an important source of individual wage growth, in particular for university graduates. For them, at least 40 percent of overall wage growth over a ten year period can be attributed to task-specific human capital. For the low- and medium-skilled, task-specific human capital accounts for at least 35 and 25 percent of overall wage growth respectively.

Keywords: human capital, skill transferability, wage growth, occupations, Germany

JEL Classification: J24, J31

Suggested Citation

Gathmann, Christina and Schönberg, Uta, How General is Human Capital? A Task-Based Approach (September 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 3067. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1026244

Christina Gathmann (Contact Author)

Alfred-Weber Institut ( email )

Bergheimer Str. 20
Heidelberg, 69115
Germany

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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