Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

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

By Serge Coulombe, Gilles Grenier and Serge Nadeau


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.

OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. and Andrés Rodriguez-Clare 1997. “The Neoclassical Revival in Growth Economics: Has It Gone Too Far?”
  2. (2006). Human Capital in Growth Regressions: How much Difference Does Data Quality Make?”,
  3. (2004). Immigrant Source Country Educational Quality and Canadian Labour Market Outcomes Catalogue.
  4. (2009). Immigration in Canada: A Portrait of the Foreign-born Population,
  5. (1986). Increasing Returns and Long-Run Growth.”
  6. (2008). Literacy and the Labour Market: Cognitive Skills and Immigrant Earnings. Catalogue no.
  7. (2004). Literacy Scores, Human Capital and Growth across Fourteen OECD Countries.
  8. (2007). Measuring and explaining management practices across firms and countries.”
  9. NBER macroeconomis annual 1997.
  10. Reenen 2010. “Human resource management and productivity.”
  11. Robert Summers and Bettina Aten 2009, “Penn World Table Version 6.3.”
  12. (1974). Schooling, experience and earnings.
  13. (2000). Schooling, Labor-Force Quality, and the Growth of Nations.” American Economic Review 90(5):1184-1208. 29 Hanushek, Eric A. and Luger Woessmann
  14. (1987). Self-selection and the earnings of immigrants.”
  15. (1962). The Economic Implications of Learning by Doing."
  16. (2009). The international transferability of immigrants’ human capital.”Economics of Education Review,
  17. (2000). Why do some countries produce so much more output per worker than others?”

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.