Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Skills of Rich and Poor Country Workers

Slichter, David and Taveras, Elisa and Monge, Daniela (2021): The Skills of Rich and Poor Country Workers.

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We use information on the occupation choices and earnings of immigrants to measure differences in specific skills between workers from rich and poor countries. We have several findings. First, the skills which rich country workers specialize in mirror the skills which high-income individuals specialize in. Second, rich country workers have the greatest advantage in skills related to the ability to generate ideas (like creativity and critical thinking) rather than scientific or technical knowledge. Third, the skills in which rich country workers have the greatest advantage align closely with the skills used in management occupations. Fourth, workers from rich countries are more varied in their skills (e.g., what one Canadian is good at is different from what another Canadian is). These findings do not appear to be accounted for by the non-randomness of immigration or mismeasurement of skills. Overall, our results suggest that rich country workers have skills particularly well-adapted to production processes involving the coordinated efforts of large groups of people.

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