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The Dispersion of Intra-Household Human Capital Across Children: A Measurement Strategy and Evidence

  • Andre Portela Souza
  • Andrew W. Horowitz

Human capital accumulation has long been recognized as critical to economic growth and development. In recent years focus on the intra-household distribution of human capital has intensified both theoretically and empirically. However, connecting the theoretical and empirical literature has been impeded by the difficulty in measuring human intra-household capital levels – particularly for children in the midst of the accumulation process. In this paper we approach this issue using the intra-household dispersion of the rate of progress through the education system as a proxy for the final dispersion of intra-household human capital. Focusing on intra-household dispersion avoids many of the problematic issues associated with measures of human capital levels. Using Brazilian data we identify a previously unreported relationship between the intra-household dispersion of this observable human capital (OHK) and household income. We explore various explanations and implications of this pattern, and argue that this relationship is consistent with the inefficient distribution of intra-household human capital suggested by recent theoretical work

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Paper provided by Econometric Society in its series Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings with number 176.

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Date of creation: 11 Aug 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ecm:latm04:176
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  1. Horowitz, Andrew W. & Wang, Jian, 2004. "Favorite son? Specialized child laborers and students in poor LDC households," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 631-642, April.
  2. Emerson, Patrick M. & Souza, André Portela, 2008. "Birth Order, Child Labor, and School Attendance in Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 1647-1664, September.
  3. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
  4. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Is Child Labor Inefficient?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 663-679, August.
  5. Lee, J.-W. & Barro, R.J., 1998. "Schooling Quality in a Cross Section of Countries," Papers 659, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  6. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1995. "Race, Children's Cognitive Achievement and The Bell Curve," NBER Working Papers 5240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Basu, Kaushik, 1998. "Child labor : cause, consequence, and cure, with remarks on International Labor Standards," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2027, The World Bank.
  8. Basu, Kaushik & Tzannatos, Zafiris, 2003. "The Global Child Labor Problem: What Do We Know and What Can We Do?," Working Papers 03-06, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. Gomes-Neto, Joao Batista & Hanushek, Eric A, 1994. "Causes and Consequences of Grade Repetition: Evidence from Brazil," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 117-48, October.
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