Research since Gary Becker equated specific human capital with firm-specific human capital. This paper divides firm human capital into a specific and a general component to investigate the relationships between firm- and occupation-specific human capital and job switches. Applying the task-based approach, the results show that the degree to which firm knowledge is portable depends on tasks similarities between the firms. In the case of switches, less experienced workers travel longer tasks distances between firms than more experienced workers. Firm- and occupation-specific knowledge are negatively related to wages in a new job but achieving a good occupational, instead of firm, match is most important for employees. The amount of specific knowledge on the firm level, called occupational intensity, decreases with experience and leads to higher wages for higher qualification levels. In addition, the positive effect of occupational intensity on wages can outweigh the negative consequences of covering long tasks distances.
skill-weights task-based approach specific human capital labor mobility