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Social Status

  • Chaim Fershtman

A common feature of recent growth models is the existence of externalities associated with human capital. Each worker, in choosing his level of schooling or occupation, ignores the impact of his choie on future generations. Thus, in general, the level of investment in human capital is suboptimal. One possible corrective mechanism is to reward investment in human capital with social status. As recognized by sociologists, the occupational social status is an important factor in occupational choice. The paper investigates the implications of social rewards onthe edistribution of talents in society and consequently on the process of economic growth. We consider two sources of heterogeneity among workers: non wage income and ability. We find that the thrive for status may be counter productive, inducing an inefficient allocation of talent. A greater emphasis on status may induce the "wrong" individuals i.e. those with low ability and high wealth to acquire schooling, causing workers with high ability but low wealth to leave the growth enhancing occupations. This crowding ou;effect, taken alone, discourages growth. In general, growth may be enhanced by an increase in the number of workers who invest in education. However, the inefficiency in the allocation of talent persists.

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Paper provided by Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science in its series Discussion Papers with number 1054.

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Date of creation: Jul 1993
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Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1054
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  1. Gary S. Murphy Becker & Kevin M., 1992. "The Division of Labor, Coordination Costs, and Knowledge," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 79, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  2. Yoram Weiss, 1973. "The Wealth Effect in Occupational Choice," Working Papers 424, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1990. "The Allocation of Talent: Implicationsfor Growth," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 65, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  4. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
  5. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Robert F. Tamura, 1990. "Human Capital, Fertility, and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1989. "Income Distribution, Market Size, and Industrialization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(3), pages 537-64, August.
  7. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  8. Chaim Fershtman & Yoram Weiss, 1991. "Social Status, Culture and Economic Performance," Discussion Papers 1007, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Weiss, Y. & Fershtman, C., 1991. "On the Stability of Occupational Rankings," Papers 33-91, Tel Aviv.
  10. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
  11. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  12. John M. Abowd & Michael Bognanno, 1995. "International Differences in Executive and Managerial Compensation," NBER Chapters, in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 67-104 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
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