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Subjective Beliefs and Schooling Decisions

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  • Belzil, Christian

    ()
    (Ecole Polytechnique, Paris)

Abstract

This paper considers the estimation of sequential schooling decisions made by agents who are endowed with subjective beliefs about their own ability. I use unique Italian panel data which provide information on i) the curvature of the per-period utility function, ii) schooling decisions, iii) post-schooling earnings, in order to estimate the future component of the differences in intertemporal utilities of school and work independently from the present component, (as in Geweke and Keane, 1995, 2001), and evaluate the importance of “present bias”. Under certain conditions, which include imposing equality between the modal belief and true ability, I recover individual specific subjective probability distributions. I estimate both the degree of confidence (a measure of spread) and the incidence of over (and under) estimation. I find that the future component of intertemporal utilities dominates schooling decisions. I find a strong incidence of under-estimation among the more able and a much smaller incidence of over-estimation among the low ability group. At the medium ability spectrum, there is evidence of some over-estimation. The degree of confidence is high and implies that agents have a substantial amount of inside information (36% of the population act on a degenerate subjective distribution). Overall, the variance of the objective ability heterogeneity distribution is 4 times as large the variance of the distribution characterizing subjective beliefs.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2820.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: May 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2820

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Keywords: dynamic programming; schooling; rational expectation; expectation parameterization; subjective distributions; present bias; over-confidence;

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References

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  1. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
  2. Bellemare, C. & Kroger, S. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 2005. "Actions and Beliefs: Estimating Distribution-Based Preferences Using a Large Scale Experiment with Probability Questions on Expectations," Discussion Paper 2005-82, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  3. Miller, Robert A, 1984. "Job Matching and Occupational Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1086-120, December.
  4. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2002. "An Empirical Analysis of Earnings and Employment Risk," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(2), pages 241-53, April.
  5. Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2005. "Dynamic Discrete Choice and Dynamic Treatment Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 1790, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2007. "A New Framework for the Analysis of Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 2565, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Guiso, Luigi & Paiella, Monica, 2001. "Risk Aversion, Wealth and Background Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 2728, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Belzil, Christian & Hansen, Jörgen, 2002. "A Structural Analysis of the Correlated Random Coefficient Wage Regression Model," IZA Discussion Papers 512, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Daniel Houser & Michael Keane & Kevin McCabe, 2004. "Behavior in a Dynamic Decision Problem: An Analysis of Experimental Evidence Using a Bayesian Type Classification Algorithm," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 781-822, 05.
  10. Christian Belzil & Marco Leonardi, 2007. "Risk Aversion and Schooling Decisions," Working Papers 0716, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  11. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Why Youths Drop Out of High School: The Impact of Preferences, Opportunities, and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1295-1340, November.
  12. Dan Lovallo & Colin Camerer, 1999. "Overconfidence and Excess Entry: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 306-318, March.
  13. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating uncertainty from heterogeneity in life cycle earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 191-261, April.
  14. Christopher J. Flinn, 2002. "Labour Market Structure and Inequality: A Comparison of Italy and the U.S," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 611-645.
  15. Monica Paiella & Luigi Guiso, 2004. "The Role of Risk Aversion in Predicting Individual Behaviour," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 222, Econometric Society.
  16. Belzil, Christian, 2007. "The return to schooling in structural dynamic models: a survey," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 1059-1105, July.
  17. Christian Gollier, 2004. "The Economics of Risk and Time," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262572249, December.
  18. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1979. "Job Matching and the Theory of Turnover," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 972-90, October.
  19. Ariel Rubinstein, 2005. "Discussion of 'BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS'," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000539, UCLA Department of Economics.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Guido Heineck & Oliver Wölfel, 2010. "Parental Risk Attitudes and Children's Secondary School Track Choice," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 344, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Christian Belzil & Marco Leonardi, 2006. "Can Risk Aversion Explain Schooling Attainments? Evidence From Italy," Working Papers 0607, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  3. Belzil, Christian, 2006. "The Return to Schooling in Structural Dynamic Models: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 2370, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Antonio Filippin & Marco Paccagnella, 2012. "Family background, self-confidence and economic outcomes," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 875, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  5. Christian Belzil & Marco Leonardi, 2007. "Risk Aversion and Schooling Decisions," Post-Print halshs-00174507, HAL.

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