What is in Local Dialects? A Field Experiment on Social Distance and Human Capital Development in Job Training

Sherry Xin Li, Shengzhe Wang, Shuo Yang

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper presents a field experiment at a large garment factory in China to investigate whether the reduced social distance between new sewing workers and their trainers affects the efficacy of on-the-job training. During the factory's new-worker training program, we randomly matched trainers and trainees based on whether they spoke the same dialects. We find that trainers voluntarily transfer more sewing techniques to trainees who speak the same dialects than to those who do not. This positive effect of shared dialects operates partially through non-work-related social closeness between trainers and trainees. Our results suggest that closer social distance could be cost-efficient leverage to reduce training costs and improve training outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102068
JournalJournal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics
Volume106
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • dialects
  • field experiment
  • Human capital development
  • social distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • General Social Sciences

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