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Lifecycle Human Capital Accumulation Across Countries: Lessons From U.S. Immigrants

Listed author(s):
  • Tommaso Porzio

    (Yale University)

  • Todd Schoellman

    (Arizona State University)

  • Nancy Qian

    (Yale University)

  • Benjamin Moll

    (Princeton University)

  • David Lagakos

    (University of California, San Diego)

Does lifecycle human capital accumulation vary across countries? If so, why? This paper seeks to answer these questions 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 Ben-Porath model of lifecycle 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 in 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 home countries before migrating. Our data suggest that lower quality schooling in poor countries may be the proximate cause of their workers’ lower lifecycle human capital accumulation.

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File URL: https://economicdynamics.org/meetpapers/2014/paper_777.pdf
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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2014 Meeting Papers with number 777.

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Date of creation: 2014
Handle: RePEc:red:sed014:777
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA

Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/
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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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2010. "Development Accounting," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 207-223, January.
  5. Todd Schoellman, 2012. "Education Quality and Development Accounting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 388-417.
  6. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters,in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Psacharopoulos, George, 1994. "Returns to investment in education: A global update," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 22(9), pages 1325-1343, September.
  11. Todd Schoellman & Lutz Hendricks, 2014. "Human Capital and Development Accounting: New Evidence from Immigrant Earnings," 2014 Meeting Papers 702, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Peter J. Klenow & Mark Bils, 2000. "Does Schooling Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1160-1183, December.
  15. 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.
  16. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, October.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
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