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Inequality in Human Capital and Endogenous Credit Constraints

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  • Rong Hai
  • James J. Heckman

Abstract

This paper investigates the determinants of inequality in human capital with an emphasis on the role of the credit constraints. We develop and estimate a model in which individuals face uninsured human capital risks and invest in education, acquire work experience, accumulate assets and smooth consumption. Agents can borrow from the private lending market and from government student loan programs. The private market credit limit is explicitly derived by extending the natural borrowing limit of Aiyagari (1994) to incorporate endogenous labor supply, human capital accumulation, psychic costs of working, and age. We quantify the effects of cognitive ability, noncognitive ability, parental education, and parental wealth on educational attainment, wages, and consumption. We conduct counterfactual experiments with respect to tuition subsidies and enhanced student loan limits and evaluate their effects on educational attainment and inequality. We compare the performance of our model with an influential ad hoc model in the literature with education-specific fixed loan limits. We find evidence of substantial life cycle credit constraints that affect human capital accumulation and inequality. The constrained fall into two groups: those who are permanently poor over their lifetimes and a group of well-endowed individuals with rising high levels of acquired skills who are constrained early in their life cycles. Equalizing cognitive and noncognitive ability has dramatic effects on inequality. Equalizing parental backgrounds has much weaker effects. Tuition costs have weak effects on inequality.

Suggested Citation

  • Rong Hai & James J. Heckman, 2016. "Inequality in Human Capital and Endogenous Credit Constraints," NBER Working Papers 22999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22999
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    3. Christian Belzil & Arnaud Maurel & Modibo Sidibé, 2021. "Estimating the Value of Higher Education Financial Aid: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 361-395.
    4. Richard Blundell & Luigi Pistaferri & Itay Saporta-Eksten, 2018. "Children, Time Allocation, and Consumption Insurance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(S1), pages 73-115.
    5. Christian Belzil & Jörgen Hansen, 2020. "The evolution of the US family income–schooling relationship and educational selectivity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(7), pages 841-859, November.
    6. Jorge Luis Garcia & Frederik Bennhoff & Duncan Ermini Leaf & James J. Heckman, 2021. "The Dynastic Benefits of Early Childhood Education," Working Papers 2021-033, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
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    8. Balmaceda, Felipe, 2021. "A failure of the market for college education and on-the-job human capital," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    9. C. Aina & D. Sonedda, 2018. "Investment in education and household consumption," Working Paper CRENoS 201806, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    10. Maria Marta Ferreyra & Carlos Garriga & Juan D. Martin-Ocampo & Angélica María Sánchez Díaz, 2021. "Raising College Access and Completion: How Much Can Free College Help?," Borradores de Economia 1155, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    11. Kubin, Ingrid & Zörner, Thomas O., 2021. "Credit cycles, human capital and the distribution of income," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 954-975.
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    13. Sunha Myong & Jungho Lee, 2019. "Self-financing, Parental Transfer, and College Education," 2019 Meeting Papers 106, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    14. Alina Malkova & Klara Sabirianova Peter & Jan Svejnar, 2021. "Labor Informality and Credit Market Accessibility," Papers 2102.05803, arXiv.org.
    15. Heejeong Kim, . "Education, Wage Dynamics, and Wealth Inequality," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics.
    16. Hanol Lee & Jong‐Wha Lee, 2021. "Patterns and determinants of intergenerational educational mobility: Evidence across countries," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 70-90, February.
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    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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