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The Money Value of a Man

  • Mark Huggett
  • Greg Kaplan

This paper posits a notion of the value of an individual's human capital and the associated return on human capital. These concepts are examined using U.S. data on male earnings and financial asset returns. We find that (1) the value of human capital is far below the value implied by discounting earnings at the risk-free rate, (2) mean human capital returns exceed stock returns early in life and decline with age, (3) the stock component of the value of human capital is smaller than the bond component at all ages and (4) human capital returns and stock returns have a small positive correlation over the working lifetime.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18066.

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Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18066
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  1. Mark Huggett and Greg Kaplan, 2010. "Human Capital Values and Returns:Bounds Implied By Earnings and Asset Returns Data," Working Papers gueconwpa~10-10-02, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
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  8. 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.
  9. Lynch, Anthony W. & Tan, Sinan, 2011. "Labor income dynamics at business-cycle frequencies: Implications for portfolio choice," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(2), pages 333-359, August.
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  11. Campbell, John, 1996. "Understanding Risk and Return," Scholarly Articles 3153293, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura & Amir Yaron, 2007. "Sources of Lifetime Inequality," Working Papers gueconwpa~07-07-04, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  13. Guiso, Luigi & Jappelli, Tullio, 2000. "Household Portfolios in Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 2549, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2004. "Using Asset Prices to Measure the Cost of Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1223-1256, December.
  15. Eric French, 2004. "The Labor Supply Response to (Mismeasured but) Predictable Wage Changes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 602-613, May.
  16. Hanno Lustig & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, 2005. "The Returns on Human Capital: Good News on Wall Street is Bad News on Main Street," NBER Working Papers 11564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Bodie, Zvi & Merton, Robert C. & Samuelson, William F., 1992. "Labor supply flexibility and portfolio choice in a life cycle model," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 427-449.
  18. Constantinides,George & Duffie,Darrel, 1992. "Asset pricing with heterogeneous consumers," Discussion Paper Serie A 381, University of Bonn, Germany.
  19. Baxter, Marianne & Jermann, Urban J, 1997. "The International Diversification Puzzle Is Worse Than You Think," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(1), pages 170-80, March.
  20. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris I. Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2004. "Cyclical Dynamics in Idiosyncratic Labor Market Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 695-717, June.
  21. Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2010. "Earnings, Consumption and Lifecycle Choices," NBER Working Papers 15914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Graham, John W & Webb, Roy H, 1979. "Stocks and Depreciation of Human Capital: New Evidence from a Present-Value Perspective," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 25(2), pages 209-24, June.
  23. Svensson, Lars E. O. & Werner, Ingrid M., 1993. "Nontraded assets in incomplete markets : Pricing and portfolio choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 1149-1168, June.
  24. Tony Smith & M. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Inferring Labor Income Risk from Economic Choices: An Indirect Inference Approach," 2007 Meeting Papers 1024, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  25. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "An Empirical Investigation of Labor Income Processes," NBER Working Papers 13394, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Mark Huggett & Juan Carols Parra, 2006. "How Well Does the US Social Insurance System Provide Social Insurance?," Working Papers gueconwpa~06-06-11, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  27. James M. Poterba & Steven F. Venti & David A. Wise, 2011. "The Composition and Draw-down of Wealth in Retirement," NBER Working Papers 17536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Epstein, Larry G & Zin, Stanley E, 1991. "Substitution, Risk Aversion, and the Temporal Behavior of Consumption and Asset Returns: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 263-86, April.
  29. Luca Benzoni & Pierre Collin-Dufresne & Robert S. Goldstein, 2007. "Portfolio choice over the life-cycle when the stock and labor markets are cointegrated," Working Paper Series WP-07-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  30. Luca Benzoni & Pierre Collin-Dufresne & Robert S. Goldstein, 2007. "Portfolio Choice over the Life-Cycle when the Stock and Labor Markets Are Cointegrated," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 62(5), pages 2123-2167, October.
  31. Heckman, James J, 1976. "A Life-Cycle Model of Earnings, Learning, and Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S11-44, August.
  32. Lee A. Lillard, 1975. "Inequality: Earnings vs. Human Wealth," NBER Working Papers 0080, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
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