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Accounting for Heterogeneity, Diversity, and General Equilibriumin Evaluating Social Programs

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  • James J. Heckman

Abstract

This paper considers the problem of policy evaluation in a modern society with heterogeneous agents and diverse groups with conflicting interests. Several different approaches to the policy evaluation problem are compared including the approach adopted in modern welfare economics, the classical representative agent approach adopted in macroecononomics and the microeconomic treatment effect approach. A new approach to the policy evaluation problem is developed and applied that combines and extends the best features of these earlier approaches.Evidence on the importance of heterogeneity is presented. Using an empirically based dynamic general equilibrium model of skill formation with heterogeneous agents, the benefits of the more comprehensive approach to policy evaluation are examined in the context of examining the impact of tax reform on skill formation and the political economy aspects of such reform. A parallel analysis of tution policy is presented.

Suggested Citation

  • James J. Heckman, 1999. "Accounting for Heterogeneity, Diversity, and General Equilibriumin Evaluating Social Programs," NBER Working Papers 7230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7230
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    1. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey Smith & Nancy Clements, 1997. "Making The Most Out Of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting For Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535.
    2. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1995. "Assessing the Case for Social Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 85-110, Spring.
    3. James J. Heckman, 1974. "Effects of Child-Care Programs on Women's Work Effort," NBER Chapters, in: Marriage, Family, Human Capital, and Fertility, pages 136-169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Heckman, James J, 1978. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(4), pages 931-959, July.
    5. Heckman, James J & Honore, Bo E, 1990. "The Empirical Content of the Roy Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1121-1149, September.
    6. James Davies & John Whalley, 1991. "Taxes and Capital Formation: How Important is Human Capital?," NBER Chapters, in: National Saving and Economic Performance, pages 163-200, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Trostel, Philip A, 1993. "The Effect of Taxation on Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 327-350, April.
    8. John S. Chipman & James C. Moore, 1976. "Why An Increase In Gnp Need Not Imply An Improvement In Potential Welfare," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(3), pages 391-418, January.
    9. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-475, March.
    10. Heckman, James J. & Lalonde, Robert J. & Smith, Jeffrey A., 1999. "The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1865-2097, Elsevier.
    11. Heckman, James J, 1990. "Varieties of Selection Bias," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 313-318, May.
    12. James J. Heckman & Edward J. Vytlacil, 2000. "Local Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
    14. Harberger, Arnold C, 1971. "Three Basic Postulates for Applied Welfare Economics: An Interpretive Essay," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 785-797, September.
    15. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1998. "Evaluating the Welfare State," NBER Working Papers 6542, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. 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.
    17. Maital, Shlomo, 1973. "Public Goods and Income Distribution: Some Further Results," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(3), pages 561-568, May.
    18. Arulampalam, W. & Robin A. Naylor & Jeremy P. Smith, 2002. "University of Warwick," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 9, Royal Economic Society.
    19. 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 11-44, August.
    20. Couch, Kenneth A, 1992. "New Evidence on the Long-Term Effects of Employment Training Programs," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(4), pages 380-388, October.
    21. Rothschild, Michael & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 1970. "Increasing risk: I. A definition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 225-243, September.
    22. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
    23. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-694, July.
    24. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
    25. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra Todd, 1998. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 261-294.
    26. James J. Heckrnan, 1974. "Effects of Child-Care Programs on Women's Work Effort," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 491-524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models

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