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The distinction between dictatorial and incentive policy interventions and its implication for IV estimation

  • Christian Belzil

    (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - CNRS : UMR7176 - Polytechnique - X, ENSAE - École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique - ENSAE ParisTech, IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor)

  • J. Hansen

    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor, CIREQ - Centre Interuniversitaire de Recherche en Economie Quantitative, CIRANO - Montréal, Department of Economics, Concordia University - Concordia University)

We investigate if, and under which conditions, the distinction between dictatorial and incentive-based policy interventions, affects the capacity of Instrument Variable (IV) methods to estimate the relevant treatment effect parameter of an outcome equation. The analysis is set in a non-trivial framework, in which the right-hand side variable of interest is affected by selectivity, and the error term is driven by a sequence of unobserved life-cycle endogenous choices. We show that, for a wide class of outcome equations, incentive-based policies may be designed so to generate a sufficient degree of post-intervention randomization (a lesser degree of selection on individual endowments among the sub-population affected). This helps the instrument to fulfill the orthogonality condition. However, for a same class of outcome equation, dictatorial policies that enforce minimum consumption cannot meet this condition. We illustrate these concepts within a calibrated dynamic life cycle model of human capital accumulation, and focus on the estimation of the returns to schooling using instruments generated from mandatory schooling reforms and education subsidies. We show how the nature of the skill accumulation process (substitutability vs complementarity) may play a fundamental role in interpreting IV estimates of the returns to schooling.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number hal-00463877.

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Date of creation: 15 Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00463877
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  1. Christian BELZIL, 2008. "Testing the Specification of the Mincer Wage Equation," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 91-92, pages 427-451.
  2. Belzil, Christian, 2007. "The return to schooling in structural dynamic models: a survey," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 1059-1105, July.
  3. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects, and Econometric Policy Evaluation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(3), pages 669-738, 05.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating Uncertainty from Heterogeneity in Life Cycle Earnings," NBER Working Papers 11024, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Schennach, Susanne, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 4702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. James J. Heckman & Sergio Urzua & Edward J. Vytlacil, 2006. "Understanding Instrumental Variables in Models with Essential Heterogeneity," NBER Working Papers 12574, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Stephen V. Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2004. "Estimation of Educational Borrowing Constraints Using Returns to Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 132-182, February.
  9. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  10. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  11. Devereux, Paul J & Hart, Robert A, 2008. "Forced to be Rich? Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Britain," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2008-02, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  12. Belzil, Christian & Hansen, Jorgen, 2007. "A structural analysis of the correlated random coefficient wage regression model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 140(2), pages 827-848, October.
  13. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1995. "The career decisions of young men," Working Papers 559, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  14. James Heckman, 1997. "Instrumental Variables: A Study of Implicit Behavioral Assumptions Used in Making Program Evaluations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 441-462.
  15. Thierry Magnac & David Thesmar, 2002. "Identifying Dynamic Discrete Decision Processes," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 801-816, March.
  16. Paul J. Devereux & Robert A. Hart, 2008. "Forced to be rich? Returns to compulsory schooling in Britain," Open Access publications 10197/738, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  17. Keane, Michael P., 2010. "Structural vs. atheoretic approaches to econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 3-20, May.
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