Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation

Contents:

Author Info

  • Cunha, Flavio
  • Heckman, James J.
  • Lochner, Lance

Abstract

This paper presents economic models of child development that capture the essence of recent findings from the empirical literature on skill formation. The goal of this essay is to provide a theoretical framework for interpreting the evidence from a vast empirical literature, for guiding the next generation of empirical studies, and for formulating policy. Central to our analysis is the concept that childhood has more than one stage. We formalize the concepts of self-productivity and complementarity of human capital investments and use them to explain the evidence on skill formation. Together, they explain why skill begets skill through a multiplier process. Skill formation is a life cycle process. It starts in the womb and goes on throughout life. Families play a role in this process that is far more important than the role of schools. There are multiple skills and multiple abilities that are important for adult success. Abilities are both inherited and created, and the traditional debate about nature versus nurture is scientifically obsolete. Human capital investment exhibits both self-productivity and complementarity. Skill attainment at one stage of the life cycle raises skill attainment at later stages of the life cycle (self-productivity). Early investment facilitates the productivity of later investment (complementarity). Early investments are not productive if they are not followed up by later investments (another aspect of complementarity). This complementarity explains why there is no equity-efficiency trade-off for early investment. The returns to investing early in the life cycle are high. Remediation of inadequate early investments is difficult and very costly as a consequence of both self-productivity and complementarity.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B7P5H-4M4SRV4-J/1/607e43a307afc20f9ac88dbc95855e1c
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

as in new window

This chapter was published in:

  • Erik Hanushek & F. Welch (ed.), 2006. "Handbook of the Economics of Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 1, number 1, June.
    This item is provided by Elsevier in its series Handbook of the Economics of Education with number 1-12.

    Handle: RePEc:eee:educhp:1-12

    Contact details of provider:
    Web page: http://www.elsevierdirect.com/product.jsp?isbn=9780444513991

    Related research

    Keywords: skill formation; education; government policy; educational finance;

    Other versions of this item:

    Find related papers by JEL classification:

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating Uncertainty from Heterogeneity in Life Cycle Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11024, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Eric Hanushek & Charles Ka Yui Leung & Kuzey Yilmaz, 2014. "Borrowing Constraints, College Aid, and Intergenerational Mobility," RCER Working Papers 581, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    3. Roland Benabou, 2002. "Tax and Education Policy in a Heterogeneous-Agent Economy: What Levels of Redistribution Maximize Growth and Efficiency?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 481-517, March.
    4. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J & Masterov, Dimitriy V, 2005. "Labor Market Discrimination and Racial Differences in Premarket Factors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 1-39, April.
    5. Caucutt, Elizabeth M. & Kumar, Krishna B., 2003. "Higher education subsidies and heterogeneity: a dynamic analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 1459-1502, June.
    6. Karsten Hansen & James J. Heckman & Kathleen J. Mullen, 2003. "The Effect of Schooling and Ability on Achievement Test Scores," NBER Working Papers 9881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2001. "Time Use and College Outcomes," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20012, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
    8. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
    9. Costas Meghir & Marten Palme, 2000. "Assessing the Effect of Schooling on Earnings Using a Social Experiment," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0670, Econometric Society.
    10. Schechtman, Jack, 1976. "An income fluctuation problem," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 218-241, April.
    11. Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten T & Heckman, James J, 2002. "Removing the veil of ignorance in assessing the distributional impacts of social policies," Working Paper Series 2002:2, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    12. Roger Klein & Richard H. Spady & Andrew Weiss, 1987. "Factors Affecting the Output and Quit Propensities of Production Workers," NBER Working Papers 2184, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Moskoff, William, 1980. "Pronatalist Policies in Romania," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 597-614, April.
    14. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects, and Econometric Policy Evaluation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(3), pages 669-738, 05.
    15. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J. & Vytlacil, Edward, 2010. "Estimating Marginal Returns to Education," IZA Discussion Papers 5275, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post--secondary Schooling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 705-734, October.
    17. Joseph E. Stiglitz, 1973. "The Theory of 'Screening', Education, and the Distribution of Income," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 354, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    18. Blau, David & Currie, Janet, 2006. "Pre-School, Day Care, and After-School Care: Who's Minding the Kids?," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    19. Myles Maxfield & Allen Schirm & Nuria Rodriguez-Planas, 2003. "The Quantum Opportunity Program Demonstration: Implementation and Short-Term Impacts," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 3525, Mathematica Policy Research.
    20. Heckman, James J. & Lalonde, Robert J. & Smith, Jeffrey A., 1999. "The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1865-2097 Elsevier.
    21. James J. Heckman & Lance J. Lochner & Petra E. Todd, 2003. "Fifty Years of Mincer Earnings Regressions," NBER Working Papers 9732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Clive R Belfield & Milagros Nores & Steve Barnett & Lawrence Schweinhart, 2006. "The High/Scope Perry Preschool Program: Cost–Benefit Analysis Using Data from the Age-40 Followup," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1).
    23. David Card, 2000. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," NBER Working Papers 7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro & Flavio Cunha, 2004. "The Technology of Skill Formation," 2004 Meeting Papers 681, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    25. Thomas J. Kane, 1996. "College Cost, Borrowing Constraints and the Timing of College Entry," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 181-194, Spring.
    26. Dynarski, Susan, 2000. "Hope for Whom? Financial Aid for the Middle Class and Its Impact on College Attendance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 3), pages 629-62, September.
    27. Dan Maurice Levy & Greg Duncan, 2000. "Using Sibling Samples to Assess the Effect of Childhood Family Income on Completed Schooling," JCPR Working Papers 168, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    28. James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explorations with a Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings with Heterogeneous Agents," NBER Working Papers 6384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    29. S. Rao Aiyagari & Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri, 2001. "Efficient Investment in Children," RCER Working Papers 481, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    30. Laitner, John, 1992. "Random earnings differences, lifetime liquidity constraints, and altruistic intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 135-170, December.
    31. John Cawley & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1998. "Understanding the Role of Cognitive Ability in Accounting for the Recent Rise in the Economic Return to Education," NBER Working Papers 6388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    32. Eliana Garces & Duncan Thomas & Janet Currie, 2000. "Longer Term Effects of Head Start," Working Papers 00-20, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    33. Magnuson, Katherine A. & Ruhm, Christopher & Waldfogel, Jane, 2007. "Does prekindergarten improve school preparation and performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 33-51, February.
    34. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1998. "School Quality and the Longer-Term Effects of Head Start," NBER Working Papers 6362, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    35. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
    36. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
    37. Bruce A. Weinberg, 2001. "An Incentive Model of the Effect of Parental Income on Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 266-280, April.
    38. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
    39. Richard H. Clarida, 1984. "Consumption, Liquidity Constraints and Asset Accumulation in the Presence of Random Income Fluctuations," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 705R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Jul 1985.
    40. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
    41. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
    42. Kane, Thomas J, 1994. "College Entry by Blacks since 1970: The Role of College Costs, Family Background, and the Returns to Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 878-911, October.
    43. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
    44. Seshadri, Ananth & Yuki, Kazuhiro, 2004. "Equity and efficiency effects of redistributive policies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(7), pages 1415-1447, October.
    45. Su, Xuejuan, 2004. "The allocation of public funds in a hierarchical educational system," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 2485-2510, December.
    46. Huggett, Mark, 1993. "The risk-free rate in heterogeneous-agent incomplete-insurance economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 17(5-6), pages 953-969.
    47. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.
    48. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 2001. "The Effect of Parental Transfers and Borrowing Constraints on Educational Attainment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1051-1103, November.
    49. Donohue, John J, III & Siegelman, Peter, 1998. "Allocating Resources among Prisons and Social Programs in the Battle against Crime," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 1-43, January.
    50. Elizabeth Caucutt & Lance Lochner, 2004. "Early and Late Human Capital Investments, Credit Constraints, and the Family," 2004 Meeting Papers 129, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    51. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
    52. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
    53. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
    54. Samuelson, Paul A, 1974. "Complementarity-An Essay on the 40th Anniversary of the Hicks-Allen Revolution in Demand Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 1255-89, December.
    55. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
    56. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
    57. Susan Dynarski, 2000. "Hope for Whom? Financial Aid for the Middle Class and Its Impact on College Attendance," NBER Working Papers 7756, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    58. Altonji, Joseph G & Dunn, Thomas A, 1996. "The Effects of Family Characteristics on the Return to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 692-704, November.
    59. Laitner, John, 1979. "Household Bequest Behaviour and the National Distribution of Wealth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 467-83, July.
    60. Taber, Christopher R, 2001. "The Rising College Premium in the Eighties: Return to College or Return to Unobserved Ability?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 665-91, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page.

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:educhp:1-12. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.