Human Capital Specificity: Direct and Indirect Evidence from Canadian and US Panels and Displaced Worker Surveys

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Working Paper

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Recent papers by Neal (1995) and Parent (2000), using different methods, provided evidence in support of the hypothesis that previously estimated firm tenure effects are, in fact, capturing industry specific human capital investments due to a correlation between firm and industry tenure. This paper uses both methods applied to both US and Canadian data sets to provide evidence in support of an alternative hypothesis that human capital is, for the most part, not narrowly specific to firm or industry. An analysis using either the indirect method of Neal, or the direct approach of Parent, provides evidence against the importance of industry specific capital and in favor of broad skill based specificity.