Seminar in Public Economics - Who Benefits from Job-Specific Skills? Evidence from a Comprehensive School Reform
Montag, 17. Juni 2019
17:00 – 18:30 Uhr
Emma Duchini (University of Warwick)
Who Benefits from Job-Specific Skills? Evidence from a Comprehensive School Reform
(mit Cristina Bellés-Obrero)
Policy makers constantly debate whether compulsory education should provide job-specific skills. This paper contributes to this discussion by analyzing the labor market effects of a recent comprehensive school reform. In 1990, Spain decided to postpone students’ choice between general and vocational education from age 14 to 16, and gave provinces 9 years to implement this reform. We instrument this staggered implementation with the pre-reform cross-province variation in the educational distribution. Our findings show that the reform does not affect the decision to continue studying after compulsory education, but increases by 10 percent the share of individuals completing post-compulsory academic studies. This upskilling effect translates into a 10 percent higher probability of holding a high-skilled job, with the effect being concentrated among women. On the contrary, acquiring only general skills decreases by 5 percent employment prospects of individuals holding at most compulsory education. These findings show that providing general rather than job-specific skills in compulsory education substantially polarizes labor market prospects of individuals with different levels of education.