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Life-Cycle Human Capital Accumulation Across Countries: Lessons From U.S. Immigrants

Author

Listed:
  • David Lagakos
  • Benjamin Moll
  • Tommaso Porzio
  • Nancy Qian
  • Todd Schoellman

Abstract

How much does life-cycle human capital accumulation vary across countries? This paper seeks to answer this question by studying U.S. immigrants, who come from a wide variety of countries but work in a common labor market. We document that returns to potential experience among U.S. immigrants are higher on average for workers coming from rich countries than for those coming from poor countries. To understand this fact we build a model of life-cycle human capital accumulation that features three potential theories, working respectively through cross-country differences in: selection, skill loss, and human capital accumulation. To distinguish between theories, we use new data on the characteristics of immigrants and non-migrants from a large set of countries. We conclude that the most likely theory is that immigrants from poor countries accumulate relatively less human capital in their birth countries before migrating. Our findings imply that life cycle human capital stocks are on average much larger in rich countries than poor countries.

Suggested Citation

  • David Lagakos & Benjamin Moll & Tommaso Porzio & Nancy Qian & Todd Schoellman, 2016. "Life-Cycle Human Capital Accumulation Across Countries: Lessons From U.S. Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 21914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21914
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Andrés Erosa & Tatyana Koreshkova & Diego Restuccia, 2010. "How Important Is Human Capital? A Quantitative Theory Assessment of World Income Inequality," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1421-1449.
    2. Todd Schoellman, 2012. "Education Quality and Development Accounting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 388-417.
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    4. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
    5. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-489, October.
    6. Lutz Hendricks, 2002. "How Important Is Human Capital for Development? Evidence from Immigrant Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 198-219, March.
    7. Serge Coulombe & Gilles Grenier & Serge Nadeau, 2014. "Quality of Work Experience and Economic Development: Estimates Using Canadian Immigrant Data," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(3), pages 199-234.
    8. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, July.
    9. Steffen Reinhold & Kevin Thom, 2013. "Migration Experience and Earnings in the Mexican Labor Market," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(3), pages 768-820.
    10. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
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    12. Grogger, Jeffrey & Hanson, Gordon H., 2011. "Income maximization and the selection and sorting of international migrants," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 42-57, May.
    13. David Lagakos & Benjamin Moll & Tommaso Porzio & Nancy Qian, 2012. "Experience Matters: Human Capital and Development Accounting," Working Papers 2012-021, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    14. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2010. "Development Accounting," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 207-223, January.
    15. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 239-281, April.
    16. Todd Schoellman & Lutz Hendricks, 2014. "Human Capital and Development Accounting: New Evidence from Immigrant Earnings," 2014 Meeting Papers 702, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    17. Peter Klenow & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 1997. "The Neoclassical Revival in Growth Economics: Has It Gone Too Far?," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 73-114 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lagakos, David & Moll, Benjamin & Porzio, Tommaso & Qian, Nancy, 2012. "Experience Matters: Human Capital and Development Accounting," CEPR Discussion Papers 9253, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:3:p:1287-1307 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:spr:series:v:8:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s13209-017-0162-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Serge Coulombe & Gilles Grenier & Serge Nadeau, 2014. "Quality of Work Experience and Economic Development: Estimates Using Canadian Immigrant Data," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(3), pages 199-234.
    5. Selahattin İmrohoroğlu & Sagiri Kitao & Tomoaki Yamada, 2017. "Can Guest Workers Solve Japan'S Fiscal Problems?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(3), pages 1287-1307, July.
    6. Ana Hidalgo-Cabrillana & Zoë Kuehn & Cristina Lopez-Mayan, 2017. "Development accounting using PIAAC data," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 373-399, November.
    7. Sagiri Kitao & Selahattin Imrohoroglu & Tomoaki Yamada, "undated". "Can Guest Workers Solve Japan's Fiscal Problems?," Working Papers e105, Tokyo Center for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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