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Insurance in Human Capital Models with Limited Enforcement

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  • Krebs, Tom

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Kuhn, Moritz

    (University of Mannheim)

  • Wright, Mark L. J.

    (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

Abstract

This paper develops a tractable human capital model with limited enforceability of contracts. The model economy is populated by a large number of long-lived, risk-averse households with homothetic preferences who can invest in risk-free physical capital and risky human capital. Households have access to a complete set of credit and insurance contracts, but their ability to use the available financial instruments is limited by the possibility of default (limited contract enforcement). We provide a convenient equilibrium characterization that facilitates the computation of recursive equilibria substantially. We use a calibrated version of the model with stochastically aging households divided into 9 age groups. Younger households have higher expected human capital returns than older households. According to the baseline calibration, for young households less than half of human capital risk is insured and the welfare losses due to the lack of insurance range from 3 percent of lifetime consumption (age 40) to 7 percent of lifetime consumption (age 23). Realistic variations in the model parameters have non-negligible effects on equilibrium insurance and welfare, but the result that young households are severely underinsured is robust to such variations.

Suggested Citation

  • Krebs, Tom & Kuhn, Moritz & Wright, Mark L. J., 2016. "Insurance in Human Capital Models with Limited Enforcement," IZA Discussion Papers 9948, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9948
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    1. Moritz Kuhn, 2017. "The Research Agenda: Moritz Kuhn on Understanding income and wealth inequality," EconomicDynamics Newsletter, Review of Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(1), April.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    human capital risk; limited enforcement; insurance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • D52 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Incomplete Markets
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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