Abstract

We examine the effect of increased industrial jobs on educational attainment in Vietnam, where WTO accession stimulated a massive increase in foreign direct investment. District-level intensity of jobs in foreign-invested firms is negatively associated with propensity to be in school for all urban teenagers and for rural females. High dropout rates are due in part to access to labor markets offering almost no premium for high school learning. The decision to join the workforce before completing high school will likely have long-term implications for individuals and for aggregate growth because global competitiveness depends on sustained increases in labor productivity.

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