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The Relative Returns to Education, Experience, and Attractiveness for Young Workers

Emily Beam (), Joshua Hyman () and Caroline Theoharides

Economic Development and Cultural Change, 2020, vol. 68, issue 2, 391 - 428

Abstract: We conduct a randomized résumé audit study, simultaneously examining the returns to education, experience, and physical attractiveness among young workers applying for entry-level, formal sector jobs in a developing country context. Employers do not value postsecondary education without a degree. Postsecondary vocational training increases the likelihood of a callback but only for blue-collar occupations typically offered only to male workers. Work experience is valued across most occupations; however, among service-sector jobs with in-person customer interactions, attractive applicants receive 23% more callbacks, swamping the returns to experience. Our results can help young workers make optimal choices to ease their school-to-work transition and guide policy makers in the design of labor market programs to ensure youth have the skills and qualifications that employers demand.

Date: 2020
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