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Brains versus Brawn: Labor Market Returns to Intellectual and Health Human Capital in a Poor Developing Country

Jere Behrman, John Hoddinott (), John Maluccio () and Reynaldo Martorell

Middlebury College Working Paper Series from Middlebury College, Department of Economics

Abstract: Previous studies report that adult height has significant associations with wages even controlling for schooling. But schooling and height are imperfect measures of adult cognitive skills (“brains”) and strength (“brawn”); further they are not exogenous. Analysis of rich Guatemalan longitudinal data over 35 years finds that proximate determinants—adult reading comprehension skills and fat-free body mass—have significantly positive associations with wages, but only brains, and not brawn, is significant when both human capital measures are treated as endogenous. Even in a poor developing economy in which strength plausibly has rewards, labor market returns are increased by brains, not brawn.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev, nep-hrm, nep-lab and nep-neu
Date: 2009-09
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