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A Note on Aggregating Human Capital Across Heterogeneous Cohorts


  • Jakub Growiec
  • Christian Groth


The objective of this paper is to add to the the criticisms of the "macro-Mincer" approach by emphasizing two important theoretical points, not addressed so far in the literature. First, we show that the "macro-Mincer" relationship between aggregate human capital and average years of schooling is generally lost upon aggregation. More precisely, we find that even if the cross-sectional "micro-Mincer" relationship does hold at the level of individuals, the "macro-Mincer" equation can be obtained only in very special cases. We proceed to explain that these cases are inconsistent with heterogeneity, insofar they require the aggregated individuals to have an equal number of years of schooling. We also demonstrate an important difference in aggegation results whether human capital stocks in the whole population or in the labor force are considered. In particular, the "macro-Mincer" relationship can only be obtained (under additional restrictions) for the latter case but not for the former. We solve the aggregation problem formally, based on a general framework for computing the aggregate human capital stock under heterogeneity across cohorts, building on Growiec (2010). The building blocks of the framework are: (a) the human capital accumulation equation at the individual level, (b) the demographic survival law, (c) assumptions regarding the allocation of time between schooling and work. The Mincer equation between the human capital stock and years of schooling is preserved upon aggregation (when going from the "micro-Mincer" to the "macro-Mincer" equation) only if: (a) all working individuals have the same number of years of schooling, or (b) the survival law is consistent with Blanchard's (1985) "perpetual youth" assumption, and a certain additional restriction holds. Otherwise, the loglinear Mincerian relationship is lost upon aggregation. NOTE: The attached paper is a preliminary and incomplete version, please do not circulate.

Suggested Citation

  • Jakub Growiec & Christian Groth, 2012. "A Note on Aggregating Human Capital Across Heterogeneous Cohorts," EcoMod2012 4193, EcoMod.
  • Handle: RePEc:ekd:002672:4193

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mikael Lindahl & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Education for Growth: Why and for Whom?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1101-1136, December.
    2. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Growiec, Jakub, 2010. "Human Capital, Aggregation, And Growth," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(2), pages 189-211, April.
    4. Christian Groth & Karl-Josef Koch & Thomas Steger, 2010. "When economic growth is less than exponential," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 44(2), pages 213-242, August.
    5. Benjamin F. Jones, 2014. "The Human Capital Stock: A Generalized Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(11), pages 3752-3777, November.
    6. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, January.
    7. Boucekkine, Raouf & de la Croix, David & Licandro, Omar, 2002. "Vintage Human Capital, Demographic Trends, and Endogenous Growth," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 340-375, June.
    8. Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Sevilla, Jaypee, 2004. "The Effect of Health on Economic Growth: A Production Function Approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 1-13, January.
    9. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1985. "Debt, Deficits, and Finite Horizons," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(2), pages 223-247, April.
    10. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2006. "The World Technology Frontier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 499-522, June.
    11. Pandey, Manish, 2008. "Human capital aggregation and relative wages across countries," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 1587-1601, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Growiec, Jakub & Groth, Christian, 2015. "On aggregating human capital across heterogeneous cohorts," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 21-38.


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