Multiple Skills, Multiple Types of Education, and the Labor Market: A Research Agenda

6 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2011

See all articles by Joseph G. Altonji

Joseph G. Altonji

Yale University - Economic Growth Center; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: September 2010


I propose a major program of research on skill, education, and the labor market. The program will build on four facts. First, ability and skill are multidimensional. Second, secondary and postsecondary education is heterogeneous in quality and in the types of skills and knowledge provided. Third, jobs differ substantially in what they require. Finally, technical change, globalization, and shifts in the composition of demand for goods and services alter the demand for particular skills in the labor market relative to supply, with important implications for the wage distribution. In essence, the research program will place the multidimensionality of ability, skills, and knowledge at the center stage of theoretical and empirical research on child development, educational attainment, and labor market careers. In this document, I discuss why the program is needed and why the prospects for success are high. I provide a brief sketch rather than a full blown proposal and of necessity use a very broad brush.

Suggested Citation

Altonji, Joseph G., Multiple Skills, Multiple Types of Education, and the Labor Market: A Research Agenda (September 2010). American Economic Association, Ten Years and Beyond: Economists Answer NSF's Call for Long-Term Research Agendas, Available at SSRN: or

Joseph G. Altonji (Contact Author)

Yale University - Economic Growth Center ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, CT 06520-8269
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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