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  • Chaim Fershtman

Abstract

A common feature of recent growth models is the existence of externalities associated with human capital. Each worker, in choosing his level of schooling or occupation, ignores the impact of his choie on future generations. Thus, in general, the level of investment in human capital is suboptimal. One possible corrective mechanism is to reward investment in human capital with social status. As recognized by sociologists, the occupational social status is an important factor in occupational choice. The paper investigates the implications of social rewards onthe edistribution of talents in society and consequently on the process of economic growth. We consider two sources of heterogeneity among workers: non wage income and ability. We find that the thrive for status may be counter productive, inducing an inefficient allocation of talent. A greater emphasis on status may induce the "wrong" individuals i.e. those with low ability and high wealth to acquire schooling, causing workers with high ability but low wealth to leave the growth enhancing occupations. This crowding ou;effect, taken alone, discourages growth. In general, growth may be enhanced by an increase in the number of workers who invest in education. However, the inefficiency in the allocation of talent persists.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1054.

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Date of creation: Jul 1993
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1054

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  1. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1993. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 35-52, January.
  2. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert F. Tamura, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
  4. Yoram Weiss, 1974. "The Wealth Effect in Occupational Choice," NBER Working Papers 0028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
  6. Becker, G.S. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 92-5, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  7. John M. Abowd & Michael Bognanno, 1995. "International Differences in Executive and Managerial Compensation," NBER Chapters, in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 67-104 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1991. "The Allocation of Talent: Implications for Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(2), pages 503-30, May.
  9. Chaim Fershtman & Yoram Weiss, 1991. "Social Status, Culture and Economic Performance," Discussion Papers 1007, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  10. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
  11. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1988. "Income Distribution, Market Size, and Industrialization," NBER Working Papers 2709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  13. Weiss, Y. & Fershtman, C., 1991. "On the Stability of Occupational Rankings," Papers 33-91, Tel Aviv.
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Cited by:
  1. Carillo Maria Rosaria, 2000. "The Effect of Professionalisation and the Demand for Social Status on the Adoption of New Technologies," Rivista italiana degli economisti, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 3, pages 473-502.
  2. Fershtman, Chaim & Hvide, Hans K & Weiss, Yoram, 2003. "Cultural Diversity, Status Concerns and the Organization of Work," CEPR Discussion Papers 3982, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Alberto Chong & Jorge Guillen & Vanessa Rios, 2010. "Language nuances, trust and economic growth," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 143(1), pages 191-208, April.
  4. Cardoso, Ana Rute, 2005. "Big Fish in Small Pond or Small Fish in Big Pond? An Analysis of Job Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 1900, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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