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Risk Aversion and Schooling Decisions

  • Belzil, Christian

    ()

    (Ecole Polytechnique, Paris)

  • Leonardi, Marco

    ()

    (University of Milan)

We develop a non-rational expectation econometric model of sequential schooling decisions. Using unique Italian panel data in which individual differences in attitudes toward risk are measurable (with error), we investigate the effect of risk aversion on the probability of entering higher education. This allows us to characterize the subjective (as opposed to the objective) effect of higher education on marginal risk exposure. Because the measure of risk aversion (the classical Arrow-Pratt degree of absolute risk aversion) is posterior to schooling decisions, it depends on current wealth realizations and we must therefore take into account its endogeneity. We also allow risk aversion to be measured with error. After taking into account both the endogeneity of wealth and measurement error, we find that risk aversion is a key determinant (comparable to parents’ educational background) of the decisions to enter higher education. Precisely, risk aversion acts as a deterrent to higher education investment.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2994.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Annals of Economics and Statistics, 2013, 111/112, 35-70
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2994
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  1. Christian Belzil, 2002. "Unobserved Ability and the Return to schooling++," Post-Print hal-00541872, HAL.
  2. Matthew Rabin, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1281-1292, September.
  3. Christian Belzil, 2006. "Subjective beliefs and Schooling Decisions," Post-Print halshs-00265468, HAL.
  4. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Why Youths Drop Out of High School: The Impact of Preferences, Opportunities, and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1295-1340, November.
  5. Christian Belzil, 2006. "The Return to Schooling in Structural Dynamic Models: A Survey," Post-Print halshs-00142538, HAL.
  6. Christian Gollier, 2004. "The Economics of Risk and Time," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262572249.
  7. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2003. "Risk Aversion, Wealth and Background Risk," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 483, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  8. Christian Belzil & Marco Leonardi, 2007. "Can Risk Aversion Explain Schooling Attainments?: evidence from Italy," Post-Print halshs-00201351, HAL.
  9. Pierre Cahuc & Stéphane Carcillo & André Zylberberg, 2014. "Labor Economics," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/1oclgdahv98, Sciences Po.
  10. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating uncertainty from heterogeneity in life cycle earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 191-261, April.
  11. Chiswick, Barry R & Mincer, Jacob, 1972. "Time-Series Changes in Personal Income Inequality in the United States from 1939, with Projections to 1985," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S34-S66, Part II, .
  12. 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.
  13. Christian Belzil & Marco Leonardi, 2006. "Can Risk Aversion Explain Schooling Attainment?," Post-Print halshs-00265434, HAL.
  14. Guiso, Luigi & Paiella, Monica, 2004. "The Role of Risk Aversion in Predicting Individual Behaviours," CEPR Discussion Papers 4591, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts," NBER Working Papers 6385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio & Pistaferri, Luigi, 2002. "An Empirical Analysis of Earnings and Employment Risk," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(2), pages 241-53, April.
  17. Michael P. Keane, 2002. "Financial Aid, Borrowing Constraints, and College Attendance: Evidence from Structural Estimates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 293-297, May.
  18. Joop Hartog & Hans van Ophem & Simona Maria Bajdechi, 2004. "How Risky is Investment in Human Capital?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-080/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  19. James J. Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Dynamic Discrete Choice and Dynamic Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0316, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2001. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," Working Papers 2001-10, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  21. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
  22. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1995. "The career decisions of young men," Working Papers 559, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  23. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
  24. Marco Leonardi, 2007. "Do Parents Risk Aversion and Wealth Explalin Secondary School Choice?," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 66(2), pages 177-206, July.
  25. Joop Hartog & Hans van Ophem & Simona Maria Bajdechi, 2004. "How Risky is Investment in Human Capital?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1261, CESifo Group Munich.
  26. Olson, Lawrence & White, Halbert & Shefrin, H M, 1979. "Optimal Investment in Schooling when Incomes are Risky," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(3), pages 522-39, June.
  27. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2000. "Dropout and Enrollment Trends in the Post-War Period: What Went Wrong in the 1970s?," NBER Working Papers 7658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Matthew Johnson & Michael P. Keane, 2013. "A Dynamic Equilibrium Model of the US Wage Structure, 1968-1996," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 1 - 49.
  29. Stacey H. Chen, 2008. "Estimating the Variance of Wages in the Presence of Selection and Unobserved Heterogeneity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 275-289, May.
  30. John F. Geweke & Michael P. Keane, 1996. "Bayesian inference for dynamic choice models without the need for dynamic programming," Working Papers 564, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  31. Shaw, Kathryn L, 1996. "An Empirical Analysis of Risk Aversion and Income Growth," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(4), pages 626-53, October.
  32. Levhari, David & Weiss, Yoram, 1974. "The Effect of Risk on the Investment in Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 950-63, December.
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