Interrupted Work Careers
Jacob Mincer, Haim Ofek
NBER Working Paper No. 479
The quantitative effects and even the existence of "human capital depreciation" phenomena has been a subject of controversy in the recent literature. Prior work, however, was largely cross-sectional and theiotgitudina1 dimension, if any, was retrospective. Using longitudinal panel data (on married women in NLS) we have now established that real wages at reentry are, indeed, lower than. at the point of labor force withdrawal, and the decline in wages is bigger the longer the interruption. Another striking finding is a relatively rapid growth in wages after the return to work. This rapid growth appears to reflect the restoration (or "repair") of previously eroded human capital. The phenomenon of "depreciation" and "restoration" is also visible in data for immigrants to the United States. However, while immigrants eventually catch up with and often surpass natives, returnees from the non-market never fully restore their earnings potential.
Published: Mincer, Jacob A. and Ofek, Haim. "Interrupted Work Careers: Depreciation and Restoration of Human Capital." Journal of Human Resources, (Winter 1982).
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