Journal of Productivity Analysis

, Volume 46, Issue 2–3, pp 169–184 | Cite as

Productivity effects of knowledge transfers through labour mobility

  • Neil Foster-McGregor
  • Johannes Pöschl


This paper examines whether there are productivity gains due to technology being transmitted across industries through the movement of skilled workers embodying human capital. The empirical analysis is based on household survey and industry-level data for a sample of 12 European Union countries covering the years 1995–2005. The estimates provide evidence of positive cross-sectoral knowledge spillovers and indicate that labour mobility has considerable beneficial effects on industry productivity. The paper further shows that the spillover effects vary considerably by technology level of the giving industry. While workers moving from high-tech and medium-tech industries are found to produce positive productivity effects for the receiving industry, no significant or even negative effects are found for those coming from low-tech industries.


Knowledge spillovers Labour mobility Productivity Human capital 

JEL Classification

J24 J60 O47 



We would like to thank Robert Stehrer for his suggestions and support in retrieving the necessary data. Furthermore we are grateful for comments and ideas from Michael Landesmann, Alejandro Cunat, Ashish Arora, and participants of the MicroDyn workshop in Zalesie.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNU-MERITMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.The Vienna Institute for International Economic StudiesViennaAustria

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