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Stochastic labour market shocks, labour market programmes, and human capital formation: a theoretical and empirical analysis


  • Michael Lechner


  • Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez



This paper develops a life-cycle model of labour supply that captures endogenous human capital formation allowing for individual’s heterogeneous responses to stochastic labour market shocks. The shocks determines conditions in the labour market and sort individuals into three labour market regimes; employment, unemployment with and unemployment without participation in labour market programmes. The structural model entails time independent stochastic shocks that have transitory effects on monetary returns while the effect on human capital formation may be permanent. The permanent effect may justify the existence of active labour market programmes if these programmes imply non-depreciating human capital and human capital depreciation is detected for the non-participant unemployed. Using several years of the Swiss Labour Force Survey (SAKE, 1991 – 2004) the empirical section compares the dynamic formation of human capital between labour market regimes. The results are consistent with the assumptions of the structural model and suggest human capital depreciation for unemployment without programme participation. They further show that labour programmes may act as a buffer to reduce human capital loss while unemployed.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Lechner & Rosalia Vazquez-Alvarez, 2007. "Stochastic labour market shocks, labour market programmes, and human capital formation: a theoretical and empirical analysis," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2007 2007-27, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2007:2007-27

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Ricardo Cossa, 2002. "Learning-By-Doing Vs. On-the-Job Training: Using Variation Induced by the EITC to Distinguish Between Models of Skill Formation," NBER Working Papers 9083, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Mark Huggett & Gustavo Ventura, 1999. "On the Distributional Effects of Social Security Reform," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(3), pages 498-531, July.
    3. Nunziata, Luca, 2003. "Labour market institutions and the cyclical dynamics of employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 31-53, February.
    4. 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.
    5. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-827, August.
    6. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1979. "A General Equilibrium Entrepreneurial Theory of Firm Formation Based on Risk Aversion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 719-748, August.
    7. repec:crs:wpaper:9116 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Mark Huggett, 1995. "The one-sector growth model with idiosyncratic shocks," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 105, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    9. Deaton, Angus, 1992. "Understanding Consumption," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288244.
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    More about this item


    Human capital formation; life-cycle labour supply models; active labour market policies; search activities; productivity shocks; unemployment;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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