Industry and Skill Wage Premiums in East Asia

100 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Emanuela di Gropello

Emanuela di Gropello

World Bank - Poverty and Economic Management Unit

Chris Sakellariou

Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Date Written: July 1, 2010


This paper focuses on the estimation of skill/industry premiums and labor force composition at the national and sector levels in seven East Asian countries with the objective of providing a comprehensive analysis of trends in demand for skills in the region. The paper addresses the following questions: Are there converging or diverging trends in the region regarding the evolution of skill premiums and labor force composition? Are changes in skill premiums generalized or industry-related? How have industry premiums evolved? The analysis uses labor and household surveys going back at least 10 years. The main trends emerging from the analysis are: (a) increasing proportions of skilled/educated workers over the long run across the region; (b) generally increasing demand for skills in the region; (c) the service sector has become the most important driver of demand for skills for all countries (except Thailand); (d) countries can be broadly categorized into three groups in relation to trends and patterns of demand for skills (Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand; Vietnam and China; and Cambodia and Mongolia); and (e) industry premiums have increased in three countries of the region (Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia). These trends point to several policy implications, including that governments should focus on policies promoting access to education to address the increasing demand for skills and/or persistent skill shortages; support general rather than specific curricula given broad-based increases in skill premiums in most countries; better tailor curriculum design and content and pedagogical approaches to the needs of the service sector; and target some social protection programs to unskilled workers to protect them from the "unequalizing" impact of education.

Keywords: Labor Markets, Water and Industry, Tertiary Education, Education For All, Secondary Education

Suggested Citation

di Gropello, Emanuela and Sakellariou, Christos, Industry and Skill Wage Premiums in East Asia (July 1, 2010). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5379, Available at SSRN:

Emanuela Di Gropello (Contact Author)

World Bank - Poverty and Economic Management Unit ( email )

1818 H Street NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Christos Sakellariou

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) ( email )

04-64, 14 Nanyang Drive
Singapore, 637332

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