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How Risky is Investment in Human Capital?

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  • Joop Hartog
  • Hans van Ophem
  • Simona Maria Bajdechi

Abstract

The risk of investment in schooling has largely been ignored. We assess the variance in the rate of return by surveying the international empirical literature from this fresh perspective and by simulating risky earnings profiles in alternative options, choosing parameters on basis of the very limited evidence. The distribution of rates of return appears positively skewed. Our best guess of ex ante risk in university education is a coefficient of variation of about 0.3, comparable to that in a randomly selected financial portfolio with some 30 stocks. Allowing for stochastic components in earnings also markedly affects expected returns.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2004/wp-cesifo-2004-08/cesifo1_wp1261.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1261.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1261

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Keywords: education; return; earnings dispersion; risk;

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References

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  1. Brunello, Giorgio & Comi, Simona, 2000. "Education and Earnings Growth: Evidence from 11 European Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 140, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Fisher, Lawrence & Lorie, James H, 1970. "Some Studies of Variability of Returns on Investments in Common Stocks," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(2), pages 99-134, April.
  3. Harmon, Colm & Hogan, Vincent & Walker, Ian, 2001. "Dispersion in the Economic Return to Schooling," CEPR Discussion Papers 3037, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Belzil, Christian & Hansen, Jörgen, 2002. "Earnings Dispersion, Risk Aversion and Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 3600, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Trostel, P. & Walker, I., 2000. "Education and Work," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 554, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  6. Pedro Carneiro & Karsten T. Hansen & James J. Heckman, 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College," NBER Working Papers 9546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ashenfelter, Orley & Harmon, Colm & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1999. "A review of estimates of the schooling/earnings relationship, with tests for publication bias," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 453-470, November.
  8. Pereira, Pedro T. & Martins, Pedro S., 2001. "Is there a Return-Risk Link in Education?," IZA Discussion Papers 321, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Hartog, Joop & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Jonker, Nicole, 2002. "Linking Measured Risk Aversion to Individual Characteristics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 3-26.
  10. Trostel, Philip & Walker, Ian & Woolley, Paul, 2002. "Estimates of the economic return to schooling for 28 countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-16, February.
  11. Hartog, Joop & Vijverberg, Wim P., 2002. "Do Wages Really Compensate for Risk Aversion and Skewness Affection?," IZA Discussion Papers 426, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1999. "General Equilibrium Cost Benefit Analysis of Education and Tax Policies," NBER Working Papers 6881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 767, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," NBER Working Papers 4832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Weiss, Yoram, 1972. "The Risk Element in Occupational and Educational Choices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(6), pages 1203-13, Nov.-Dec..
  16. Joop Hartog & Erik Plug & Luis Diaz Serrano & Jose Vieira, 2003. "Risk compensation in wages – a replication," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 639-647, July.
  17. Dooley, Martin D & Gottschalk, Peter, 1984. "Earnings Inequality among Males in the United States: Trends and the Effect of Labor Force Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 59-89, February.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Belzil, Christian & Leonardi, Marco, 2006. "Can Risk Aversion Explain Schooling Attainments? Evidence from Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 2123, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Mazza, Jacopo & van Ophem, Hans & Hartog, Joop, 2013. "Unobserved heterogeneity and risk in wage variance: Does more schooling reduce earnings risk?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 323-338.
  3. Booij, Adam S. & van Praag, Bernard M.S., 2009. "A simultaneous approach to the estimation of risk aversion and the subjective time discount rate," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 374-388, May.
  4. Volker Grossmann, 2004. "Risky Human Capital Investment, Income Distribution, and Macroeconomic Dynamics," DEGIT Conference Papers c009_028, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  5. Christian Belzil & Marco Leonardi, 2009. "Risk aversion and schooling decisions," Working Papers hal-00411099, HAL.
  6. Andini, Corrado & Pereira, Pedro T., 2007. "Full-time Schooling, Part-time Schooling, and Wages: Returns and Risks in Portugal," IZA Discussion Papers 2651, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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