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A Labour-Income-Based Measure of the Value of Human Capital: An Application to the States of the United States

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  • Mulligan, Casey B
  • Sala-i-Martin, Xavier

Abstract

We argue that a sensible measure of the aggregate value of human capital is the ratio of total labour income per capita to the wage of a person with zero years of schooling. The reason is that total labour income not only incorporates human capital, but also physical capital: given human capital, regions with higher physical capital will tend to have higher wages for all workers and, therefore, higher labour income. We find that one way to net out the effect of aggregate physical capital on labour income is to divide labour income by the wage of a zero-schooling worker. For the average US state, our measure suggests that the value of human capital during the 1980s grew at a much larger rate than schooling. The reason has to do with movements in the relative productivities of the different workers: in some sense, some workers and some types of schooling became a lot more relevant in the 1980s and, as a result, measured human capital increased.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 1146.

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Date of creation: Mar 1995
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1146

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Keywords: Human Capital; Panel Data Sets; Two-Sector Models of Growth;

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  1. Barro, Robert J, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-43, May.
  2. Robert J. Barro & N. Gregory Mankiw & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1994. "Capital mobility in Neoclassical models of growth," Economics Working Papers 82, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Heckman, James J, 1976. "A Life-Cycle Model of Earnings, Learning, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S11-44, August.
  4. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "Losers and Winners in Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 4341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  6. Willis, Robert J., 1987. "Wage determinants: A survey and reinterpretation of human capital earnings functions," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 525-602 Elsevier.
  7. Mulligan, C.B. & Sala-i-Martin, X., 1992. "Transitional Dynamics in Two-Sector Models of Endogenous Growth," Papers 651, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  8. 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.
  9. Milton Friedman, 1957. "A Theory of the Consumption Function," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie57-1, July.
  10. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "International Comparisons of Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 4349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  12. Milton Friedman, 1957. "Introduction to "A Theory of the Consumption Function"," NBER Chapters, in: A Theory of the Consumption Function, pages 1-6 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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