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Human Capital Acquisition and Occupational Choice: Implications for Economic Development

Listed author(s):
  • Marti Mestieri

    (Northwestern University)

  • Johanna Schauer

    (Toulouse School of Economics)

  • Robert Townsend

    (MIT)

Using household-level data from Mexico we document patterns among schooling, entrepreneurial decisions and household characteristics such as assets, talent of household members and age of the household head. Motivated by our findings, we develop a heterogeneous-agent, incomplete- markets, overlapping-generations dynasty model. Households jointly decide over their life cycle on (i) kids' human capital investments (schooling) and (ii) parents' entry, exit and investment into alternative entrepreneurial modes (subsistence and modern). With financial constraints all of these are co-determined. A calibrated version of our model can account for the broad correlation patterns uncovered in the data within and across generations, e.g., a non-monotonic relationship between educational choices and assets across occupations, growth in profits and employment for modern firms only, and dynastic persistence across generations in education and wealth. Endogenous human capital acquisition is a key driver of inequality and intergenerational persistence. Eliminating this channel would decrease the top 10% income share by 47%. Eliminating within-period borrowing constraints would increase average household expenditure by 7.1% and benefit the middle class, reducing top and bottom expenditure shares. It would also reduce by 28% the correlation between household assets and kids' schooling levels. (Copyright: Elsevier)

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.red.2017.02.001
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Article provided by Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics in its journal Review of Economic Dynamics.

Volume (Year): 25 (2017)
Issue (Month): (April)
Pages: 151-186

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Handle: RePEc:red:issued:16-123
DOI: 10.1016/j.red.2017.02.001
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Pavel Sevcik & Rui Castro, 2013. "Occupational Choice, Human Capital, and Financing Constraints," 2013 Meeting Papers 1321, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Nezih Guner & Andrii Parkhomenko & Gustavo Ventura, 2015. "Managers and Productivity Differences," Working Papers 861, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  3. German Cubas & B. Ravikumar & Gustavo Ventura, 2016. "Talent, Labor Quality, and Economic Development," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 21, pages 160-181, July.
  4. Elizabeth Caucutt & Lance Lochner & Youngmin Park, 2015. "Correlation, Consumption, Confusion, or Constraints: Why do Poor Children Perform so Poorly?," Working Papers 2015-005, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  5. Melanie Khamis, 2012. "A Note On Informality In The Labour Market," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(7), pages 894-908, October.
  6. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Lance Lochner, 2017. "Early and Late Human Capital Investments, Borrowing Constraints, and the Family," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20173, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
  7. Ananth Seshadri & Nicolas Roys, 2012. "Economic Development and the Organization of Production," 2012 Meeting Papers 456, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Orazio P. Attanasio & Costas Meghir & Ana Santiago, 2012. "Education Choices in Mexico: Using a Structural Model and a Randomized Experiment to Evaluate PROGRESA," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 37-66.
  9. Manuela Angelucci & Giacomo De Giorgi, 2009. "Indirect Effects of an Aid Program: How Do Cash Transfers Affect Ineligibles' Consumption?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 486-508, March.
  10. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
  11. Jere R. Behrman & Susan W. Parker & Petra E. Todd, 2011. "Do Conditional Cash Transfers for Schooling Generate Lasting Benefits?: A Five-Year Followup of PROGRESA/Oportunidades," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(1), pages 93-122.
  12. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  13. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Lance Lochner, 2012. "Early and Late Human Capital Investments, Borrowing Constraints, and the Family," NBER Working Papers 18493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Lance Lochner, 2012. "Early and Late Human Capital Investments, Borrowing Constraints, and the Family," NBER Working Papers 18493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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