IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Can risk aversion explain schooling attainments? Evidence from Italy

  • Belzil, Christian
  • Leonardi, Marco

Using unique Italian panel data, in which individual differences in behavior toward risk are measured from answers to a lottery question, we investigate if (and to what extent) risk aversion can explain differences in schooling attainments. We formulate the schooling decision process as a reduced-form dynamic discrete choice. The model is estimated with a degree of flexibility virtually compatible with semi-parametric likelihood techniques. We analyze how grade transition from one level to the next varies with preference heterogeneity (risk aversion), parental human capital, socioeconomic variables and persistent unobserved (to the econometrician) heterogeneity. We present evidence that schooling continuation probabilities decrease with risk aversion at low grade levels, but increase with risk aversion at the time when the decision to enter higher education is made. However, differences in attitudes toward risk account for a modest portion of the probability of entering higher education. Differences in parental human capital and ability(ies) are much more important.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Labour Economics.

Volume (Year): 14 (2007)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
Pages: 957-970

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:14:y:2007:i:6:p:957-970
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Brunello, Giorgio, 2002. "Absolute risk aversion and the returns to education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 635-640, December.
  2. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
  3. Belzil, Christian, 2007. "Subjective Beliefs and Schooling Decisions," IZA Discussion Papers 2820, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James, 2008. "A New Framework For The Analysis Of Inequality," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(S2), pages 315-354, September.
  5. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2004. "Separating Uncertainty from Heterogeneity in Life Cycle Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 1437, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2001. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," Working Papers 2001-10, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  8. Colm Harmon & Vincent (Vincent Peter) Hogan & Ian Walker, 2001. "Dispersion in the economic return to schooling," Working Papers 200116, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  9. Flinn, Christopher J, 2002. "Labour Market Structure and Inequality: A Comparison of Italy and the U.S," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(3), pages 611-45, July.
  10. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  11. 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.
  12. John F. Geweke & Michael P. Keane, 1996. "Bayesian inference for dynamic choice models without the need for dynamic programming," Working Papers 564, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  13. James J. Heckman & Lance J. Lochner & Petra E. Todd, 2005. "Earnings Functions, Rates of Return and Treatment Effects: The Mincer Equation and Beyond," NBER Working Papers 11544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2007. "Risk Aversion, Wealth, and Background Risk," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/47, European University Institute.
  15. Belzil, Christian & Hansen, Jörgen, 2003. "Structural Estimates of the Intergenerational Education Correlation," IZA Discussion Papers 973, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Van den Berg, Gerard J., 2001. "Duration models: specification, identification and multiple durations," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 55, pages 3381-3460 Elsevier.
  17. 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.
  18. Christian Belzil & Jörgen Hansen, 2002. "Unobserved Ability and the Return to Schooling," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-19, CIRANO.
  19. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, December.
  20. Levhari, David & Weiss, Yoram, 1974. "The Effect of Risk on the Investment in Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 950-63, December.
  21. Kodde, David A, 1986. "Uncertainty and the Demand for Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(3), pages 460-67, August.
  22. Christian Belzil, 2006. "The Return to Schooling in Structural Dynamic Models: A Survey," Working Papers 0609, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  23. 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.
  24. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2005. "The Role Of Risk Aversion In Predicting Individual Behavior," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 546, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  25. Fersterer, Josef & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2003. "Smoking, discount rates, and returns to education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 561-566, December.
  26. James J. Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Dynamic Discrete Choice and Dynamic Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1996. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 42-71, March.
  28. Gould, Eric D & Moav, Omer & Weinberg, Bruce A, 2001. " Precautionary Demand for Education, Inequality, and Technological Progress," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 285-315, December.
  29. Michael Baker & Angelo Melino, 1999. "Duration Dependence and Nonparametric Heterogeneity: A Monte Carlo Study," Working Papers melino-99-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  30. John F. Geweke & Michael P. Keane, 1997. "Mixture of normals probit models," Staff Report 237, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  31. Joop Hartog & Hans van Ophem & Simona Maria Bajdechi, 2004. "How Risky is Investment in Human Capital?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1261, CESifo Group Munich.
  32. James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1998. "Instrumental Variables Methods for the Correlated Random Coefficient Model: Estimating the Average Rate of Return to Schooling When the Return is Correlated with Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 974-987.
  33. Ham, John C & LaLonde, Robert J, 1996. "The Effect of Sample Selection and Initial Conditions in Duration Models: Evidence from Experimental Data on Training," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(1), pages 175-205, January.
  34. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Black, Hispanic, and White Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 455-499, June.
  35. Christian Gollier, 2004. "The Economics of Risk and Time," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262572249, June.
  36. Chay, Kenneth Y. & Lee, David S., 2000. "Changes in relative wages in the 1980s Returns to observed and unobserved skills and black-white wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 1-38, November.
  37. Joop Hartog & Hans van Ophem & Simona Maria Bajdechi, 2004. "How Risky is Investment in Human Capital?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-080/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  38. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
  39. Hartog, Joop & Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Jonker, Nicole, 2002. "Linking Measured Risk Aversion to Individual Characteristics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(1), pages 3-26.
  40. William N. Evans & Edward Montgomery, 1994. "Education and Health: Where There's Smoke There's an Instrument," NBER Working Papers 4949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  41. Olson, Lawrence & White, Halbert & Shefrin, H M, 1979. "Optimal Investment in Schooling when Incomes are Risky," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(3), pages 522-39, June.
  42. Chiswick, Barry R & Mincer, Jacob, 1972. "Time-Series Changes in Personal Income Inequality in the United States from 1939, with Projections to 1985," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S34-S66, Part II, .
  43. Johnson, Thomas, 1978. "Time in School: The Case of the Prudent Patron," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(5), pages 862-72, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:14:y:2007:i:6:p:957-970. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.