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Risk Aversion and Human Capital Investment: a Structural Econometric Model

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  • Thomas Brodaty

    () (THEMA, Université de Cergy-Pontoise)

  • Robert Gary-Bobo

    () (Université de Paris 1, IDEP and CEPR)

  • Ana Prieto

    () (THEMA, Université de Cergy-Pontoise)

Abstract

We propose to model individual educational investments as a rational decision, maximizing expected utility, conditional on some characteristics observed by the student, under the combined risks affecting future wages and schooling duration. Assuming that students' attitudes toward risk can be represented by a CRRA utility, we show that the risk-aversion parameter can be identified in a natural way, using the variation in school-leaving ages, conditional on certified educational levels. Estimation can be performed by means of classic Maximum Likelihood methods. The model can easily be compared with a non-structural, simplified version, which is a standard wage equation with endogenous dummy variables representing education levels, education levels being themselves determined by an Ordered Probit model. We find small but significant values of the coefficient of relative risk aversion, between 0:1 and 0:9. These results are obtained with a rich sample of 12,500 young men who left the educational system in 1992, in France.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ema:worpap:2006-06
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Frank M. Fossen & Daniela Glocker, 2009. "Expected Future Earnings, Taxation, and University Enrollment: A Microeconometric Model with Uncertainty," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 241, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Magali Beffy & Denis Fougère & Arnaud Maurel, 2012. "Choosing the Field of Study in Postsecondary Education: Do Expected Earnings Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 334-347, February.
    3. Frank Fossen & Daniela Glocker, 2011. "Expected future earnings, taxation, and university enrollment," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(6), pages 688-723, December.
    4. J. Francois Outreville, 2014. "Risk Aversion, Risk Behavior, and Demand for Insurance: A Survey," Journal of Insurance Issues, Western Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 37(2), pages 158-186.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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