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A Century Of Human Capital And Hours

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  • DIEGO RESTUCCIA
  • GUILLAUME VANDENBROUCKE

Abstract

An average person born in the United States in the second half of the nineteenth century completed 7 years of schooling and spent 58 hours a week working in the market. By contrast, an average person born at the end of the twentieth century completed 14 years of schooling and spent 40 hours a week working. In the span of 100 years, completed years of schooling doubled and working hours decreased by 30 percent. What explains these trends? We consider a model of human capital and labor supply to quantitatively assess the contribution of exogenous variations in productivity (wage) and life expectancy in accounting for the secular trends in educational attainment and hours of work. We find that the observed increase in wages and life expectancy account for 80 percent of the increase in years of schooling and 88 percent of the reduction in hours of work. Rising wages alone account for 75 percent of the increase in schooling and almost all the decrease in hours in the model, whereas rising life expectancy alone accounts for 25 percent of the increase in schooling and almost none of the decrease in hours of work.
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Suggested Citation

  • Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2013. "A Century Of Human Capital And Hours," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(3), pages 1849-1866, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:51:y:2013:i:3:p:1849-1866
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2012.00497.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Vandenbroucke, Guillaume, 2009. "Trends in hours: The U.S. from 1900 to 1950," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 237-249, January.
    2. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2013. "The Evolution Of Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 54, pages 915-936, August.
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    5. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2014. "Explaining Educational Attainment across Countries and over Time," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 824-841, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2014. "Explaining Educational Attainment across Countries and over Time," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 824-841, October.
    2. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2014. "Explaining Educational Attainment across Countries and over Time," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(4), pages 824-841, October.
    3. Sánchez-Romero, Miguel & d׳Albis, Hippolyte & Prskawetz, Alexia, 2016. "Education, lifetime labor supply, and longevity improvements," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 118-141.
    4. Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Holger Strulik, 2017. "The Genesis of the Golden Age: Accounting for the Rise in Health and Leisure," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 24, pages 132-151, March.
    5. Holger Strulik & Katharina Werner, 2016. "50 is the new 30—long-run trends of schooling and retirement explained by human aging," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 165-187, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O4 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity

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