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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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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp2994.pdf
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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 & Jörgen Hansen, 2002. "Unobserved Ability and the Return to Schooling," CIRANO Working Papers 2002s-19, CIRANO.
  2. Christian Belzil, 2007. "The Return to Schooling in Structural Dynamic Models: A Survey," Post-Print halshs-00201230, HAL.
  3. Guiso, Luigi & Paiella, Monica, 2004. "The Role of Risk Aversion in Predicting Individual Behaviours," CEPR Discussion Papers 4591, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2007. "Dynamic discrete choice and dynamic treatment effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 341-396, February.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Rabin, Matthew, 2000. "Risk Aversion and Expected-Utility Theory: A Calibration Theorem," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt731230f8, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  9. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Dropout and Enrollment Trends in the Postwar Period: What Went Wrong in the 1970s?," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 439-482 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 948-964, June.
  11. Christian Belzil, 2007. "Subjective Beliefs and Schooling Decisions," Post-Print halshs-00174524, HAL.
  12. Belzil, Christian & Leonardi, Marco, 2006. "Can Risk Aversion Explain Schooling Attainments? Evidence from Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 2123, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. 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.
  14. Joop Hartog & Hans van Ophem & Simona Maria Bajdechi, 2004. "How Risky is Investment in Human Capital?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1261, CESifo Group Munich.
  15. 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.
  16. Luigi Guiso & Monica Paiella, 2007. "Risk Aversion, Wealth, and Background Risk," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/47, European University Institute.
  17. 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.
  18. 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, .
  19. 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.
  20. Christian Gollier, 2004. "The Economics of Risk and Time," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262572249, June.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1995. "The career decisions of young men," Working Papers 559, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. Pierre Cahuc & André Zylberberg, 2004. "Labor Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026203316x, June.
  28. repec:dgr:uvatin:20040080 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. repec:dgr:uvatin:2004080 is not listed on IDEAS
  32. 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.
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