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Abstract

This paper investigates the role of skill depreciation in the relationship between work interruptions and subsequent wages. Using Swedish data from two waves (1994 and 1998) of the International Adult Literacy Survey, which included results of tests gauging respondents' ability to read and make practical use of printed information, the authors are able to analyze changes in individuals' skills as a function of time out of work. They find statistically strong evidence of a negative relationship between work interruptions and skills. The analysis suggests that depreciation of general skills was economically important. A full year of non-employment, for example, was associated with a 5-percentile move down the skill distribution.

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