Brains versus Brawn: Labor Market Returns to Intellectual and Health Human Capital in a Poor Developing Country

38 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2009

See all articles by Jere Behrman

Jere Behrman

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics

John Hoddinott

Cornell University, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Students

John A. Maluccio

Middlebury College - Department of Economics

Reynaldo Martorell

Emory University

Date Written: September 10, 2009

Abstract

Previous studies report that adult height has significant associations with wages even controlling for schooling. But schooling and height are imperfect measures of adult cognitive skills (“brains”) and strength (“brawn”); further they are not exogenous. Analysis of rich Guatemalan longitudinal data over 35 years finds that proximate determinants - adult reading comprehension skills and fat-free body mass - have significantly positive associations with wages, but only brains, and not brawn, is significant when both human capital measures are treated as endogenous. Even in a poor developing economy in which strength plausibly has rewards, labor market returns are increased by brains, not brawn.

Keywords: height, cognitive skill, education, earnings, Guatemala

JEL Classification: J24, J31, I12, I21, O12

Suggested Citation

Behrman, Jere R. and Hoddinott, John and Maluccio, John A. and Martorell, Reynaldo, Brains versus Brawn: Labor Market Returns to Intellectual and Health Human Capital in a Poor Developing Country (September 10, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1471316 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1471316

Jere R. Behrman

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States
215-898-7704 (Phone)
215-573-2057 (Fax)

John Hoddinott (Contact Author)

Cornell University, Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Students ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

John A. Maluccio

Middlebury College - Department of Economics ( email )

Munroe Hall
Middlebury, VT 05753
United States
802-443-5941 (Phone)

Reynaldo Martorell

Emory University ( email )

201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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