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Education in Italy: is there any return?

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  • Germana Bottone

    (ISAE - Institute for Studies and Economic Analyses)

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    Abstract

    The “return to education” issue has been widely investigated in the economic literature. However, how the social value of education can affect its economic return and individual decisions on “human capital” investments has been somewhat neglected. The paper criticises the traditional definition of human capital and the premises of Becker’s equation and considers the following questions: does education have a consistent return in Italy? If not, does education have any social value?. From an economic point of view and at a conceptual level, numerous difficulties arise when one seeks to define “human capital”. One may make a list of factors endogenous to an individual, such as education, training and ability, and of factors exogenous to him/her such as level of family education, social capital, system of relations, freedom of knowledge transmission, institutions. All of these factors may affect “human capital”. Moreover, the decision to invest in “human capital” may not be completely rational. Rationality would probably instead suggest on-the-job training and training. Education has a cultural, social and historical value; as a consequence, individuals may make decisions about the proper investment in education not only by considering marginal costs and future benefits of that investment, but for other reasons as well.

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    File URL: http://lipari.istat.it/digibib/Working_Papers/WP_109_2009_Bottone.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by ISTAT - Italian National Institute of Statistics - (Rome, ITALY) in its series ISAE Working Papers with number 109.

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    Length: 25 pages
    Date of creation: Mar 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:isa:wpaper:109

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    Keywords: human capital; bounded rationality; institutional economics.;

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    1. Hwang, Hae-shin & Reed, W Robert & Hubbard, Carlton, 1992. "Compensating Wage Differentials and Unobserved Productivity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 835-58, August.
    2. Heckman, James J, 1978. "A Partial Survey of Recent Research on the Labor Supply of Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 200-207, May.
    3. B. F. Kiker, 1966. "The Historical Roots of the Concept of Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 74, pages 481.
    4. Vella, Francis, 1994. "Gender Roles and Human Capital Investment: The Relationship between Traditional Attitudes and Female Labour Market Performance," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 61(242), pages 191-211, May.
    5. Christopher L. Erikson & Andrea Ichino, 1994. "Wage Differentials in Italy: Market Forces, Institutions, and Inflation," NBER Working Papers 4922, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
    7. Hwei-Lin Chuang & Hsih-yin Lee, 2003. "The Return on Women's Human Capital and the Role of Male Attitudes Toward Working Wives," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 435-459, 04.
    8. Fiori Stefano, 2005. "Simon's Bounded Rationality. Origins and use in economic theory," CESMEP Working Papers 200509, University of Turin.
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