The purpose of this paper is to examine spillover effects across differently educated workers. For the first time, the authors consider “reverse” spillover effects, i.e. spillover effects from secondary-educated workers with dual vocational education and training (VET) to tertiary-educated workers with academic education. The authors argue that, due to structural differences in training methodology and content, secondary-educated workers with VET degrees have knowledge that tertiary academically educated workers do not have.
The authors use data from a large employer-employee data set: the Swiss Earnings Structure Survey. The authors estimate ordinary least squares and fixed effects panel-data models to identify such “reverse” spillover effects. Moreover, the authors consider the endogenous workforce composition.
The authors find that tertiary-educated workers have higher productivity when working together with secondary-educated workers with VET degrees. The instrumental variable estimations support this finding. The functional form of the reverse spillover effect is inverted-U-shaped. This means that at first the reverse spillover effect from an additional secondary-educated worker is positive but diminishing.
The results imply that firms need to combine different types of workers because their different kinds of knowledge produce spillover effects and thereby lead to overall higher productivity.