Policy debates about the balance of vocational and general education programs focus on the school-to-worktransition. But with rapid technological change, gains in youth employment from vocational educationmay be offset by less adaptability and thus diminished employment later in life. To test our main hypothesisthat any relative labor-market advantage of vocational education decreases with age, we employ adifference-in-differences approach that compares employment rates across different ages for peoplewith general and vocational education. Using micro data for 18 countries from the International AdultLiteracy Survey, we find strong support for the existence of such a trade-off, which is most pronouncedin countries emphasizing apprenticeship programs. Results are robust to accounting for ability patternsand to propensity-score matching.
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