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Subjective Beliefs and Schooling Decisions

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  • Belzil, Christian

    () (Ecole Polytechnique, Paris)

Abstract

This paper considers the estimation of sequential schooling decisions made by agents who are endowed with subjective beliefs about their own ability. I use unique Italian panel data which provide information on i) the curvature of the per-period utility function, ii) schooling decisions, iii) post-schooling earnings, in order to estimate the future component of the differences in intertemporal utilities of school and work independently from the present component, (as in Geweke and Keane, 1995, 2001), and evaluate the importance of “present bias”. Under certain conditions, which include imposing equality between the modal belief and true ability, I recover individual specific subjective probability distributions. I estimate both the degree of confidence (a measure of spread) and the incidence of over (and under) estimation. I find that the future component of intertemporal utilities dominates schooling decisions. I find a strong incidence of under-estimation among the more able and a much smaller incidence of over-estimation among the low ability group. At the medium ability spectrum, there is evidence of some over-estimation. The degree of confidence is high and implies that agents have a substantial amount of inside information (36% of the population act on a degenerate subjective distribution). Overall, the variance of the objective ability heterogeneity distribution is 4 times as large the variance of the distribution characterizing subjective beliefs.

Suggested Citation

  • Belzil, Christian, 2007. "Subjective Beliefs and Schooling Decisions," IZA Discussion Papers 2820, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2820
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    5. Belzil, Christian, 2007. "The return to schooling in structural dynamic models: a survey," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 1059-1105, July.
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    7. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2008. "Risk Aversion, Wealth, and Background Risk," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(6), pages 1109-1150, December.
    8. Christian Belzil & Marco Leonardi, 2013. "Risk Aversion and Schooling Decisions," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 111-112, pages 35-70.
    9. Charles Bellemare & Sabine Kroger & Arthur van Soest, 2005. "Actions and beliefs: Estimating distribution-based preferences using a large scale experiment with probability questions on expectations," Artefactual Field Experiments 00007, The Field Experiments Website.
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    13. Ariel Rubinstein, 2005. "Discussion of 'BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS'," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000539, UCLA Department of Economics.
    14. Christopher J. Flinn, 2002. "Labour Market Structure and Inequality: A Comparison of Italy and the U.S," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(3), pages 611-645.
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    Cited by:

    1. Filippin, Antonio & Paccagnella, Marco, 2012. "Family background, self-confidence and economic outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 824-834.
    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. Wölfel, Oliver & Heineck, Guido, 2012. "Parental risk attitudes and children's secondary school track choice," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 727-743.
    4. Belzil, Christian & Leonardi, Marco, 2007. "Can risk aversion explain schooling attainments? Evidence from Italy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 957-970, December.
    5. Christian Belzil & Marco Leonardi, 2013. "Risk Aversion and Schooling Decisions," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 111-112, pages 35-70.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dynamic programming; schooling; rational expectation; expectation parameterization; subjective distributions; present bias; over-confidence;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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