Journal article Open Access

Culture, Norms, and the Provision of Training by Employers: Evidence from the Swiss Language Border

Aepli, Manuel; Kuhn, Andreas; Schweri, Jürg

Apprenticeships are the core track of the Swiss educational system at the upper- secondary level, made possible by the fact that many Swiss firms voluntarily provide appropriate training positions. However, firms’ training provision differs substantively between the language-cultural regions within Switzerland. This feature of the Swiss apprenticeship system is hard to explain using conventional explanations of firm- provided training. In this paper, we argue that there are cultural differences in the norms favoring private over state provision of goods, which influence firms’ provision of training positions. Exploiting national referenda, we first show that, within a narrow band around the language border, voters in German speaking municipalities value private over public provision of certain goods more than their French speaking counterparts. We then document a higher share of training firms on the German speaking side of the language border of 4.4 percentage points, or roughly 13%. This estimate is robust across different sets of controls, alternative specifications, and various subsamples. Our results suggest an interplay between regional norms and local firms’ training behavior.

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