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How Risky is Investment in Human Capital?

Author

Listed:
  • Joop Hartog
  • Hans van Ophem
  • Simona Maria Bajdechi

Abstract

The risk of investment in schooling has largely been ignored. We assess the variance in the rate of return by surveying the international empirical literature from this fresh perspective and by simulating risky earnings profiles in alternative options, choosing parameters on basis of the very limited evidence. The distribution of rates of return appears positively skewed. Our best guess of ex ante risk in university education is a coefficient of variation of about 0.3, comparable to that in a randomly selected financial portfolio with some 30 stocks. Allowing for stochastic components in earnings also markedly affects expected returns.

Suggested Citation

  • Joop Hartog & Hans van Ophem & Simona Maria Bajdechi, 2004. "How Risky is Investment in Human Capital?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1261, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1261
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp1261.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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).
    2. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," Working Papers 710, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. Harmon, Colm & Hogan, Vincent & Walker, Ian, 2003. "Dispersion in the economic return to schooling," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 205-214, April.
    4. Brunello, Giorgio & Comi, Simona, 2004. "Education and earnings growth: evidence from 11 European countries," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 75-83, February.
    5. Trostel, Philip & Walker, Ian & Woolley, Paul, 2002. "Estimates of the economic return to schooling for 28 countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-16, February.
    6. Ashenfelter, Orley & Harmon, Colm & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1999. "A review of estimates of the schooling/earnings relationship, with tests for publication bias," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 453-470, November.
    7. Dooley, Martin D & Gottschalk, Peter, 1984. "Earnings Inequality among Males in the United States: Trends and the Effect of Labor Force Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 59-89, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Belzil, Christian & Leonardi, Marco, 2007. "Can risk aversion explain schooling attainments? Evidence from Italy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 957-970, December.
    2. Grossmann, Volker, 2008. "Risky human capital investment, income distribution, and macroeconomic dynamics," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 19-42, March.
    3. Christian Belzil & Marco Leonardi, 2013. "Risk Aversion and Schooling Decisions," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 111-112, pages 35-70.
    4. Booij, Adam S. & van Praag, Bernard M.S., 2009. "A simultaneous approach to the estimation of risk aversion and the subjective time discount rate," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 374-388, May.
    5. Franco Mariuzzo & Patrick Paul Walsh & Ciara Whelan, 2004. "EU Merger Control in Differentiated Product Industries," CESifo Working Paper Series 1312, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Andini, Corrado & Pereira, Pedro T., 2007. "Full-time Schooling, Part-time Schooling, and Wages: Returns and Risks in Portugal," IZA Discussion Papers 2651, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Mazza, Jacopo & van Ophem, Hans & Hartog, Joop, 2013. "Unobserved heterogeneity and risk in wage variance: Does more schooling reduce earnings risk?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 323-338.
    8. repec:voj:journl:v:63:y:2016:i:1:p:25-43 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; return; earnings dispersion; risk;

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