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Separating uncertainty from heterogeneity in life cycle earnings

  • Flavio Cunha
  • James Heckman
  • Salvador Navarro

This paper develops and applies a method for decomposing cross section variability of earnings into components that are forecastable at the time students decide to go to college (heterogeneity) and components that are unforecastable. About 60% of variability in returns to schooling is forecastable. This has important implications for using measured variability to price risk and predict college attendance. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/oep/gpi019
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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 57 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 191-261

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxecpp:v:57:y:2005:i:2:p:191-261
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  1. James J. Heckman & Lance J. Lochner & Petra E. Todd, 2008. "Earnings Functions and Rates of Return," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20082, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  2. Heckman, James J & Honore, Bo E, 1990. "The Empirical Content of the Roy Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1121-49, September.
  3. Laitner, John, 1992. "Random earnings differences, lifetime liquidity constraints, and altruistic intergenerational transfers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 135-170, December.
  4. Matzkin, Rosa L, 1992. "Nonparametric and Distribution-Free Estimation of the Binary Threshold Crossing and the Binary Choice Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 239-70, March.
  5. James Heckman & Salvador Navarro-Lozano, 2004. "Using Matching, Instrumental Variables, and Control Functions to Estimate Economic Choice Models," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 30-57, February.
  6. Pedro Carneiro & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2010. "Estimating marginal returns to education," CeMMAP working papers CWP29/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 11259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Cosslett, Stephen R, 1983. "Distribution-Free Maximum Likelihood Estimator of the Binary Choice Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(3), pages 765-82, May.
  9. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Ian Preston, 2004. "Consumption inequality and partial insurance," IFS Working Papers W04/28, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J., 2002. "Removing the Veil of Ignorance in Assessing the Distributional Impacts of Social Policies," IZA Discussion Papers 453, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 767, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Heckman, James J & Smith, Jeffrey, 1997. "Making the Most Out of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting for Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535, October.
  14. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-60, September.
  15. James J. Heckman & Edward J. Vytlacil, 2000. "Local Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Lee A. Lillard & Robert J. Willis, 1976. "Dynamic Aspects of Earnings Mobility," NBER Working Papers 0150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Flavin, Marjorie A, 1981. "The Adjustment of Consumption to Changing Expectations about Future Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 974-1009, October.
  18. Browning, Martin & Hansen, Lars Peter & Heckman, James J., 1999. "Micro data and general equilibrium models," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 543-633 Elsevier.
  19. Heckman, James J, 1990. "Varieties of Selection Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 313-18, May.
  20. Pedro Carneiro & Karsten T. Hansen & James J. Heckman, 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College," NBER Working Papers 9546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Azeem Shaikh & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Threshold Crossing Models and Bounds on Treatment Effects: A Nonparametric Analysis," NBER Technical Working Papers 0307, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. James J. Heckman, 2001. "Micro Data, Heterogeneity, and the Evaluation of Public Policy: Nobel Lecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 673-748, August.
  23. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1998. "Evaluating the Welfare State," NBER Working Papers 6542, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Victor Chernozhukov & Christian Hansen, 2005. "An IV Model of Quantile Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(1), pages 245-261, 01.
  25. Heckman, James & Scheinkman, Jose, 1987. "The Importance of Bundling in a Gorman-Lancaster Model of Earnings," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2), pages 243-55, April.
  26. Luigi Pistaferri, 2001. "Superior Information, Income Shocks, And The Permanent Income Hypothesis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 465-476, August.
  27. Sims, Christopher A, 1972. "Money, Income, and Causality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 540-52, September.
  28. Richard Blundell & Ian Preston, 1997. "Consumption, inequality and income uncertainty," IFS Working Papers W97/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  29. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
  30. Hartog, Joop & Vijverberg, Wim P., 2002. "Do Wages Really Compensate for Risk Aversion and Skewness Affection?," IZA Discussion Papers 426, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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