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Expected Future Earnings, Taxation, and University Enrollment: A Microeconometric Model with Uncertainty

  • Frank M. Fossen
  • Daniela Glocker

Taxation changes the expectations of prospective university students about their future level and uncertainty of after-tax income. To estimate the impact of taxes on university enrollment, we develop and estimate a structural microeconometric model, in which a high-school graduate decides to enter university studies if expected lifetime utility from this choice is greater than that anticipated from starting to work right away. We estimate the ex-ante future paths of the expectation and variance of net income for German high-school graduates, using only information available to those graduates at the time of the enrollment decision, accounting for multiple nonrandom selection and employing a microsimulation model to account for taxation. In addition to income uncertainty, the enrollment model takes into account university dropout and unemployment risks, as well as potential credit constraints. The estimation results are consistent with expectations. First, higher risk-adjusted returns to an academic education increase the probability of university enrollment. Second, high-school graduates are moderately risk averse, as indicated by the Arrow-Pratt coefficient of risk aversion estimated within the model. Thus, higher uncertainty among academics decreases enrollment rates. A simulation based on the estimated structural model indicates that a revenue-neutral, flat-rate tax reform with an unchanged basic tax allowance would increase enrollment rates for men in Germany because of the higher expected net income in the higher income range.

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File URL: http://www.diw.de/documents/publikationen/73/diw_01.c.344445.de/diw_sp0241.pdf
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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 241.

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Length: 42 p.
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp241
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  1. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James & Navarro, Salvador, 2004. "Separating uncertainty from heterogeneity in life cycle earnings," Working Paper Series 2005:6, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  2. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Carneiro, Pedro & Hansen, Karsten & Heckman, James, 2003. "Estimating distributions of treatment effects with an application to the returns to schooling and measurement of the effects of uncertainty on college choice," Working Paper Series 2003:9, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  4. Dan Anderberg, 2009. "Optimal Policy and the Risk-Properties of Human Capital Reconsidered," 2009 Meeting Papers 166, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. 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.
  6. Belzil, Christian & Hansen, Jörgen, 2002. "Earnings Dispersion, Risk Aversion and Education," CEPR Discussion Papers 3600, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post-Secondary Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 518, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2007. "Identifying and Estimating the Distributions of Ex Post and Ex Ante Returns to Schooling," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 870-893, December.
  9. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich & Peter Haan & Johannes Geyer, 2008. "Documentation of the Tax-Benefit Microsimulation Model STSM: Version 2008," Data Documentation 31, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  10. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich, 2012. "Financial Student Aid and Enrollment in Higher Education: New Evidence from Germany," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(1), pages 124-147, 03.
  11. Thomas Brodaty & Robert Gary-Bobo & Ana Prieto, 2006. "Risk Aversion and Human Capital Investment: a Structural Econometric Model," THEMA Working Papers 2006-06, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  12. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 2001. "The Effect of Parental Transfers and Borrowing Constraints on Educational Attainment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1051-1103, November.
  13. Anderberg, Dan & Andersson, Fredrik, 2003. "Investments in human capital, wage uncertainty, and public policy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1521-1537, August.
  14. James J. Heckman, 1977. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," NBER Working Papers 0177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Fishe, Raymond P. H. & Trost, R. P. & Lurie, Philip M., 1981. "Labor force earnings and college choice of young women: An examination of selectivity bias and comparative advantage," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 1(2), pages 169-191, April.
  16. 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.
  17. Vincent Hogan & Ian Walker, 2003. "Education Choice under Uncertainty and Public Policy," Working Papers 200302, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  18. Hartog, Joop & Vijverberg, Wim P.M., 2007. "On compensation for risk aversion and skewness affection in wages," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 938-956, December.
  19. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521338257 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Eaton, Jonathan & Rosen, Harvey S, 1980. "Taxation, Human Capital, and Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(4), pages 705-15, September.
  21. Kodde, David A, 1986. "Uncertainty and the Demand for Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 68(3), pages 460-67, August.
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