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Life Expectancy, Schooling, and Lifetime Labor Supply: Theory and Evidence Revisited

  • Matteo Cervellati
  • Uwe Sunde

This paper presents a theoretical and empirical analysis of the role of life expectancy for optimal schooling and lifetime labor supply. The results of a simple prototype Ben-Porath model with age-specific survival rates show that an increase in lifetime labor supply is not a necessary, nor a sufficient, condition for greater life expectancy to increase optimal schooling. The observed increase in survival rates during working ages that follows from the "rectangularization" of the survival function is crucial for schooling and labor supply. The empirical results suggest that the relative benefits of schooling have been increasing across cohorts of US men born 1840-1930. A simple quantitative analysis shows that a realistic shift in the survival function can lead to an increase in schooling and a reduction in lifetime labor hours.

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Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 81 (2013)
Issue (Month): 5 (09)
Pages: 2055-2086

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Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:81:y:2013:i:5:p:2055-2086
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  1. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2000. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends and Endogenous Growth," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2000007, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  2. Alan S. Blinder & Yoram Weiss, 1975. "Human Capital and Labor Supply: A Synthesis," NBER Working Papers 0067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Raj Chetty & Adam Guren & Day Manoli & Andrea Weber, 2012. "Does Indivisible Labor Explain the Difference between Micro and Macro Elasticities? A Meta-Analysis of Extensive Margin Elasticities," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2012, Volume 27, pages 1-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Rosenbloom, Joshua L., 1996. "Was There a National Labor Market at the End of the Nineteenth Century? New Evidence on Earnings in Manufacturing," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(03), pages 626-656, September.
  5. Casper Hansen & Lars Lønstrup, 2012. "Can higher life expectancy induce more schooling and earlier retirement?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 1249-1264, October.
  6. Richard Rogerson & Johanna Wallenius, 2007. "Micro and Macro Elasticities in a Life Cycle Model With Taxes," NBER Working Papers 13017, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Hippolyte D'Albis & Paul Lau Sau-Him & Miguel Sanchez-Romero, 2012. "Mortality transition and differential incentives for early retirement," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" hal-00659868, HAL.
  8. repec:got:cegedp:141 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. repec:hal:cesptp:hal-00659868 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Alexander Ludwig & Thomas Schelkle & Edgar Vogel, 2012. "Demographic Change, Human Capital and Welfare," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(1), pages 94-107, January.
  11. Sheshinski, Eytan, 2009. "Uncertain Longevity and Investment in Education," MPRA Paper 53144, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Holger Strulik & Sebastian Vollmer, 2011. "Long-Run Trends of Human Aging and Longevity," PGDA Working Papers 7311, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  13. dʼAlbis, Hippolyte & Lau, Sau-Him Paul & Sánchez-Romero, Miguel, 2012. "Mortality transition and differential incentives for early retirement," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(1), pages 261-283.
  14. Peter Rangazas, 2002. "The Quantity and Quality of Schooling and U.S. Labor Productivity Growth (1870-2000)," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 932-964, October.
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