Human Capital Accumulation at Work: Estimates for the World and Implications for Development

February 2020

Remi Jedwab, Asif Islam, Paul Romer, and Robert Samaniego

IIEP working paper 2020-3

Abstract: In this paper, we: (i) study wage-experience profiles and obtain measures of returns to potential work experience using data from about 24 million individuals in 1,084 household surveys and census samples across 145 countries; (ii) show that returns to work experience are strongly correlated with economic development – workers in developed countries appear to accumulate twice more human capital at work than workers in developing countries; and (iii) use a simple accounting framework to find that the contribution of work experience to human capital accumulation and economic development might be as important as the contribution of education itself.

JEL: O11; O12; O15; O47; E24; J11; J31

Keywords: Returns to Work Experience; Returns to Education; Human Capital Accumulation; Economic Development; Labor Markets; Development Accounting

GW is committed to digital accessibility. If you experience a barrier that affects your ability to access content on this page, let us know via the Accessibility Feedback Form.