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Human Capital, Uncertain Wage Distributions, and Educational and Occupational Choices

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  • Mattila, J. Peter
  • Orazem, Peter

Abstract

This study develops a model of occupational and educational choices. Individuals are assumed to choose careers based on expected utility maximization, given uncertainty concerning future earnings. The model directly leads to estimable equations relating career choices to the moments of occupational earnings distributions. The authors report maximum likelihood estimates using a sample of high school graduates from Maryland school districts, 1951-69. The eight observed career choices respond as expected to the first and second moments of the earnings distribution and to a measure of school quality. Reasonable estimates of human capital production and supply elasticities are obtained for the career choices.

Suggested Citation

  • Mattila, J. Peter & Orazem, Peter, 1991. "Human Capital, Uncertain Wage Distributions, and Educational and Occupational Choices," Staff General Research Papers Archive 10841, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:10841
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    Cited by:

    1. Scott Drewianka, 2010. "Cross-Sectional Variation In Individuals' Earnings Instability," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(2), pages 291-326, June.
    2. Konrad, Kai A. & Kovenock, Dan, 2012. "The lifeboat problem," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 552-559.
    3. Felderer, Bernhard & Drost, André, 2000. "Cyclical Occupational Choice in a Model with Rational Wage Expectations and Perfect Occupational Mobility," Economics Series 81, Institute for Advanced Studies.
    4. Yu, Li & Orazem, Peter F. & Jolly, Robert W., 2014. "Entrepreneurship over the business cycle," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 105-110.
    5. Polachek, Solomon W., 2008. "Earnings Over the Life Cycle: The Mincer Earnings Function and Its Applications," Foundations and Trends(R) in Microeconomics, now publishers, vol. 4(3), pages 165-272, April.

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