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Quality of Work Experience and Economic Development—Estimates using Canadian Immigrant Data

By Serge Coulombe, Gilles Grenier and Serge Nadeau

Abstract

There is increasing evidence in the economic development literature that the quality of schooling considerably varies across countries that are at different stages in their economic development. However, an issue that has been overlooked is the role of the quality of work experience in explaining differences in economic development. This paper uses Canadian census data on immigrant earnings to show that per capita GDP in the country of origin can be used as a quality indicator for both education and work experience. Coefficients estimated from immigrant earnings regressions are then used to estimate the effects of difference in human capital quality on development gaps between rich and poor countries. The analysis shows that while differences in the quality of schooling account for substantial differences in living standards across countries, differences in the quality of work experience can account for even more. Policywise, our results suggest that the immediate effects of improving the quality and the quantity of schooling in less-developed countries might be rather limited if labour-market institutions and ways of doing things are not changed at the same time to improve the quality of work experience.Quality of human capital, work experience, immigrant earnings, quality of schooling, economic development.

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