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Real Options and Human Capital Investment

  • Bas Jacobs

This paper extends the standard human capital model with real options. Real options influence investment behavior when risky investments in human capital are irreversible and individuals can affect the timing of the investment. Option values make individuals more reluctant to invest in human capital and, as a result, required returns on the investment increase. Real options may help to explain a larger human capital premium for higher education, smaller responsiveness of higher education investments to financial incentives, and larger sensitivity of higher education to low-return outcomes and human capital risks. Higher tax rates (or lower subsidies) depress human capital investments, but to a lesser extent than in the standard human capital model. A flat income tax remains neutral if education expenditures are fully deductible.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1982.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1982
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  1. Belzil, Christian & Hansen, Jörgen, 2002. "Earnings Dispersion, Risk Aversion and Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 3600, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  4. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
  5. 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.
  6. A. Lans Bovenberg & Bas Jacobs, 2005. "Redistribution and Education Subsidies are Siamese Twins," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-036/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  7. James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explorations with a Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings with Heterogeneous Agents," NBER Working Papers 6384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating Uncertainty from Heterogeneity in Life Cycle Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11024, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
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  11. Joop Hartog & Luis Díaz-Serrano, 2007. "Earnings risk and demand for higher education: A cross-section test for Spain," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 1-28, May.
  12. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Rajnish Mehra & Edward C. Prescott, 2003. "The Equity Premium in Retrospect," NBER Working Papers 9525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  15. Plug, Erik & Vijverberg, Wim P., 2001. "Schooling, Family Background, and Adoption: Does Family Income Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 246, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Stephen V. Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2004. "Estimation of Educational Borrowing Constraints Using Returns to Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 132-182, February.
  17. Vincent Hogan & Ian Walker, 2003. "Education Choice under Uncertainty and Public Policy," Working Papers 200302, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  18. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 948-964, June.
  19. Thomas J. Kane, 1995. "Rising Public College Tuition and College Entry: How Well Do Public Subsidies Promote Access to College?," NBER Working Papers 5164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  24. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2000. "Dropout and Enrollment Trends in the Post-War Period: What Went Wrong in the 1970s?," NBER Working Papers 7658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281.
  26. repec:dgr:uvatin:2005036 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. Rubinstein, Y. & Tsiddon, D., 1999. "Born to be Unemployed: Unemployment and Wages over the Business Cycle," Papers 39-99, Tel Aviv.
  28. Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek & Ian Walker, 2003. "The Returns to Education: Microeconomics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 115-156, 04.
  29. Kane, Thomas J, 1994. "College Entry by Blacks since 1970: The Role of College Costs, Family Background, and the Returns to Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 878-911, October.
  30. 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.
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  34. Hessel Oosterbeek & Edwin Leuven, 2001. "Firm-Specific Human Capital as a Shared Investment: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 342-347, March.
  35. Hilmer, Michael J., 1998. "Post-secondary fees and the decision to attend a university or a community college," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 329-348, March.
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