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Earnings over the Life Cycle: What Do Human Capital Models Explain?

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  • Polachek, Solomon W

Abstract

It is argued that labor market success is perhaps the most important indicator of individual welfare. As such, this paper surveys recent developments in human capital theory to explain how earnings vary across the population. The paper begins with standard life cycle accumulation models which explain why earnings rise at a diminishing rate over one's life cycle. These models are then modified to incorporate (1) school quality to explain race differences in earnings, (2) intermittent labor force participation to explain gender wage differentials, (3) heterogeneous human capital to explain occupational choice, (4) matching to explain geographic and job mobility, and (5) search to explain workers' and firms' incomplete information. Finally, additional extensions are considered to incorporate effort enhancing contracts as a special case. Copyright 1995 by Scottish Economic Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Polachek, Solomon W, 1995. "Earnings over the Life Cycle: What Do Human Capital Models Explain?," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 42(3), pages 267-289, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:scotjp:v:42:y:1995:i:3:p:267-89
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Solomon Polachek, 2002. "Mincer s Overtaking Point on the Lifecycle Earnings Distribution," LIS Working papers 310, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    2. Jane Waldfogel & Wendy Sigle-Rushton, 2006. "Motherhood and Women’s Earnings in Anglo-American, Continental European, and Nordic Countries," LIS Working papers 454, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    3. Solomon Polachek, 2003. "Mincer's Overtaking Point and the Life Cycle Earnings Distribution," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(4), pages 273-304, December.
    4. Botelho, Anabela & Bland Jones, Cheryl & Kiker, B. F., 1998. "Nursing wages and educational credentials: the role of work experience and selectivity bias," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 297-306, June.
    5. Karel Janda & Van Quang Tran & Pavel Zetek, 2015. "Faktory ovlivňující zapojení žen v mikrofinancích
      [The Factors Influencing the Participation of Women in Microfinance]
      ," Politická ekonomie, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2015(3), pages 363-381.
    6. Polachek, Solomon W., 2008. "Earnings Over the Life Cycle: The Mincer Earnings Function and Its Applications," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 4(3), pages 165-272, April.
    7. Janda, Karel & Van Tran, Quang & Zetek, Pavel, 2014. "Vybrané faktory ovlivňující zapojení žen v mikrofinancích
      [The Selected Factors Influencing the Participation of Women in Microfinance]
      ," MPRA Paper 59109, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Václav Urbánek & Kateřina Maršíková-Nepolská, 2005. "Financial Market in the Czech Republic and Human Capital Investment: Private Financing of Higher Education," Prague Economic Papers, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2005(2), pages 131-146.

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