Discussion Papers

No.545 Skill Sorting and Production Chains: Evidence from India


November 2015


This study proposes a new mechanism that explains skill-sorting patterns and skill wage differentials across industries based on the length of the industry’s production chain. A simple simultaneous production model shows that when the quality of intermediate inputs deteriorates rapidly along the production chains, high-skilled individuals choose to work in industries with shorter production chains because of higher returns to skill. I empirically confirm this skill-sorting pattern and these inter-industry skill wage differentials in India, where the quality of intermediate inputs is likely to degrade rapidly because of the high number of unskilled laborers, poor infrastructure, and less-advantaged technology. The results remain robust even when considering selection bias, alternative reasons for inter-industry skill wage differentials, and a different period. The results of this study have important implications when considering countries’ industrial development patterns.

Keywords: India, Input quality, Production chains, Return to skill, Skill sorting, Skill wage premium
JEL classification: I25, I26, J24, J31, L23, O15

PDF (943KB)

Please note that discussion papers are works in various stages of progress and most have not been edited and proofread and may contain errors of fact or judgment. Revised versions of these papers may subsequently appear in more formal publication series. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). The IDE does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included and accepts no responsibility for any consequences arising from its use.