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Heterogeneous Returns to Human Capital and Dynamic Self-Selection

  • Christian Belzil
  • Jörgen Hansen

We estimate a structural dynamic programming model of schooling decisions and obtain individual specific estimates of the local (and average) returns to schooling as well as the returns to experience. Homogeneity of the returns to human capital is strongly rejected in favor of a discrete distribution version of the random coefficient specification. The results indicate that individuals who have the higher returns to schooling are also those who have the higher returns to experience. There is a 5.9 percentage points difference in the average return to schooling at college graduation between high and low market ability individuals (2.3% vs 8.2%) and a 5.4 percentage points difference in the return to experience upon entrance in the labor market (3.1% vs 8.5%). When averaged over all types, the return to experience in the early phase of the life cycle (6.8%) exceeds the average return to schooling (6.4% at college graduation). After conditioning on a specific type, the log wage regression function remains rather convex in schooling. The conflictual effects of the returns to schooling and experience on schooling decisions imply weak dynamic self-selection; that is educational attainments are only weakly correlated with individual differences in the returns to schooling. Dans cet article, nous estimons un modèle de programmation dynamique des choix en éducation dans lequel les rendements moyens et marginaux (en éducation et en expérience) sont propres à chaque individu. Nos résultats indiquent une forte corrélation positive entre rendements en éducation et rendements en expérience. Après avoir intégré les effets individuels aléatoires, la fonction de salaire est de forme convexe (les rendements en éducation croissent avec l'éducation). Les effets antagonistes des rendements en éducation et en expérience impliquent une très faible corrélation entre les rendements individuels et l'éducation observée.

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Paper provided by CIRANO in its series CIRANO Working Papers with number 2001s-10.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 01 Feb 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2001s-10
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  1. 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.
  2. Eckstein, Zvi & Wolpin, Kenneth, 1998. "Youth Employment and Academic Performance in High School," CEPR Discussion Papers 1861, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Rust, John, 1987. "Optimal Replacement of GMC Bus Engines: An Empirical Model of Harold Zurcher," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 999-1033, September.
  7. Charles F. Manski & John V. Pepper, 2000. "Monotone Instrumental Variables, with an Application to the Returns to Schooling," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 997-1012, July.
  8. Belzil, Christian & Hansen, Jörgen, 2002. "Unobserved Ability and the Return to Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 508, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. James J. Heckman & Edward J. Vytlacil, 2000. "Local Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Kenneth I. Wolpin & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2000. "Natural "Natural Experiments" in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(4), pages 827-874, December.
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