Human capital specificity and the diffusion of economic activities

Dr. Frank Neffke, Center for International Development-Harvard Kennedy School

Labor is an exceedingly important factor of production. However, the value of labor resides in its human capital, that is, in the experience, knowledge and skills of workers. Much of this human capital is specific to tasks that are associated with particular industries. As a consequence, modern labor markets are no homogeneous masses, but rather repositories of specialists, who have highly specific areas of expertise. This has consequences not just for individual career paths. The need to hire experts also constrains economies' development and often requires substantial mobility in order for economic activities to diffuse. This talk will give an overview of a set of related papers that show how the specificity of labor expresses itself in highly structured labor flows, which themselves shape the diversification paths of firms and regions.

About the speaker
Frank Neffke is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the CID's Growth Lab. His research focuses on how economic actors diversify from one economic activity to another. Central in this research is that activities can be more or less similar in terms of the capabilities or skills they require. This similarity affects diversification processes throughout the economy, ranging from individuals’ career paths and corporate diversification strategies, to structural change in regional and national economies. Before joining CID, Frank worked as an assistant professor at the Erasmus School of Economics in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He holds a PhD in Economic Geography from Utrecht University and Master degrees in Econometrics and Philosophy from the University of Amsterdam

Venue: conference room

Date: 01 December 2014

Time: 12:30 - 13:30