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A Multiplicative Model of Investment in Human Capital

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  • Yoram Weiss

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effects of changes in exogenous parameters such as the interest rate, the length of the working period and initial endowments on the shape of the observed earnings profile. Though this problem can be treated in general, we shall restrict ourselves to the following "inverse optimal" problem: find a form of the trade-off function between current and future earnings which leads to a logarithmic earnings function. In the paper we demonstrate that logarithmic earning functions can be derived from optimal behavior. Specifically, the simple case which we analyze leads to piece wise linear log earnings functions. Such a derivation has the advantage that the effects on earnings of exogenous factors can be consistently analyzed. The model is sufficiently simple to allow a clear exposition of the basic elements which govern earnings in a static world. The same elements appear in the more complicated derivations currently available in the literature but it is more difficult to trace their impact. The multiplicative model provides additional information on the robustness of the results previously derived from the Ben-Porath specification. This is particularly important since the "production function" for human capital is not directly observable and alternative specification can only be compared in terms of their implications with respect to observed earnings.

Suggested Citation

  • Yoram Weiss, 1976. "A Multiplicative Model of Investment in Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 0140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:0140
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    1. Jacob Mincer & Solomon Polachek, 1974. "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," NBER Chapters,in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 76-110 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Wallace, T D & Ihnen, L A, 1975. "Full-Time Schooling in Life-Cycle Models of Human Capital Accumulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(1), pages 137-155, February.
    3. Blinder, Alan S & Weiss, Yoram, 1976. "Human Capital and Labor Supply: A Synthesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(3), pages 449-472, June.
    4. Haley, William J, 1973. "Human Capital: The Choice Between Investment and Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(5), pages 929-944, December.
    5. Johnson, George E & Stafford, Frank P, 1974. "Lifetime Earnings in a Professional Labor Market: Academic Economists," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(3), pages 549-569, May/June.
    6. Lee A. Lillard, 1973. "Human Capital Life Cycle of Earnings Models: A Specific Solution and Estimation," NBER Working Papers 0004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Johnson, Thomas, 1970. "Returns from Investment in Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(4), pages 546-560, September.
    8. Brown, Charles, 1976. "A Model of Optimal Human-Capital Accumulation and the Wages of Young High School Graduates," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 299-316, April.
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