IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Acquisition of Skills over the Life-Cycle


  • Stuart J. Fowler
  • Eric R. Young


The cyclical behavior of the acquisition of skills over the life-cycle is investigated. The OLG model employed includes the human capital production sector of Heckman (1976) that has two possible responses in skill acquisition to a productivity shock; a substitution and an income effect. The calibrated model predicts, for all age groups, that the substitution effect dominates the income effect implying opportunity-cost considerations tend to make schooling countercyclical. However, the data on college enrollments suggests that the ability-to-pay consideration, or the income effect, is more important for the very young since enrollments for the recently graduated from high-school are procyclical. By making human capital acquisition shocks positively correlated with the TFP shock, the income effect of the young is increased thereby replicating the observed data.

Suggested Citation

  • Stuart J. Fowler & Eric R. Young, 2004. "The Acquisition of Skills over the Life-Cycle," Working Papers 200402, Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:mts:wpaper:200402

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:cup:macdyn:v:1:y:1997:i:1:p:45-75 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Blundell, Richard & Griffith, Rachel & Windmeijer, Frank, 2002. "Individual effects and dynamics in count data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 113-131, May.
    3. Matthew J. Lindquist, 2004. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality Over the Business Cycle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(3), pages 519-540, July.
    4. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 47-89, January.
    5. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-1370, November.
    6. Gaspar, Jess & L. Judd, Kenneth, 1997. "Solving Large-Scale Rational-Expectations Models," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(01), pages 45-75, January.
    7. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Heathcote, Jonathan & Storesletten, Kjetil & Violante, Giovanni L, 2004. "The Cross-Sectional Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 4296, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Paul Gomme & Richard Rogerson & Peter Rupert & Randall Wright, 2005. "The Business Cycle and the Life Cycle," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2004, Volume 19, pages 415-592 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Harris Dellas & Plutarchos Sakellaris, 2003. "On the cyclicality of schooling: theory and evidence," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(1), pages 148-172, January.
    11. Schmitt-Grohe, Stephanie & Uribe, Martin, 2004. "Solving dynamic general equilibrium models using a second-order approximation to the policy function," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 755-775, January.
    12. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
    13. David N. DeJong & Beth F. Ingram, 2001. "The Cyclical Behavior of Skill Acquisition," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(3), pages 536-561, July.
    14. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Keith Blackburn & Dimitrios Varvarigos, 2008. "Human capital accumulation and output growth in a stochastic environment," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 36(3), pages 435-452, September.
    2. Accolley, Delali, 2015. "Altruistic Overlapping Generations of Households and the Contribution of Human Capital to Economic Growth," MPRA Paper 69972, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Human Capital; OLG; Perturbation;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mts:wpaper:200402. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (E. Anthon Eff). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.