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Earnings Dispersion, Risk Aversion and Education

  • Belzil, Christian

    ()

    (Ecole Polytechnique, Paris)

  • Hansen, Jörgen

    ()

    (Concordia University)

We estimate a dynamic programming model of schooling decisions in which the degree of risk aversion can be inferred from schooling decisions. In our model, individuals are heterogeneous with respect to school and market abilities but homogeneous with respect to the degree of risk aversion. We allow endogenous schooling attainments to affect the level of risk experienced in labor market earnings through wage dispersion and employment rate dispersion. We find a low degree of relative risk aversion (0.9282) and the estimates indicate that both wage and employment rate dispersions decrease significantly with schooling attainments. We find that a counterfactual increase in risk aversion will increase schooling attainments. Finally, the low degree of risk aversion implies that an increase in earnings dispersion would have little effect on schooling attainments.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 513.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Research in Labor Economics, 2004, 23, 335-358
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp513
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  1. Kocherlakota, N., 1995. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Working Papers 95-05, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  2. Rosen, Sherwin, 1985. "Implicit Contracts: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 1144-75, September.
  3. Eckstein, Z. & Wolpin, K.I., 1997. "Youth Employment and Academic Perfomance in High School," Papers 24-97, Tel Aviv.
  4. Belzil, Christian & Hansen, Jörgen, 2002. "Unobserved Ability and the Return to Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 508, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 2001. "The Effect of Parental Transfers and Borrowing Constraints on Educational Attainment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1051-1103, November.
  9. Robert Sauer, 2002. "Educational Financing and Lifetime Earnings," Working Papers 2002-06, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  10. James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1998. "Instrumental Variables Methods for the Correlated Random Coefficient Model: Estimating the Average Rate of Return to Schooling When the Return is Correlated with Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 974-987.
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  16. Kenneth I. Wolpin & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2000. "Natural "Natural Experiments" in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(4), pages 827-874, December.
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  18. 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.
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