Does High School Employment Develop Marketable Skills?
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While decades of academic research have consistently demonstrated a positive relationship between high school employment and adult earnings, the literature is empirically silent in regards to why this association exists. This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) to examine the hypothesis that high school employment develops “marketable skills” in the form of occupation-specific human capital. By analyzing wage variation attributable to the commonality of skill portfolios across respondents’ high school and adult (age 20 and 23) occupations, this study fails to find consistent evidence that the types of skills utilized in high school employment are correlated with adult earnings. Within the framework of the human capital model, this would suggest that the positive, post-school economic gains of in-school work are largely attributable to increases in general human capital (e.g., workplace socialization, character building).
KeywordsOccupation Human capital Skill development School employment
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