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Early and Late Human Capital Investments, Borrowing Constraints, and the Family

This paper investigates the importance of family borrowing constraints in determining human capital investments in children at early and late ages. We begin by providing new evidence from the Children of the NLSY (CNLSY) which suggests that borrowing constraints bind for at least some families with young children. Next, we develop an intergenerational model of lifecycle human capital accumulation to study the role of early versus late investments in children when credit markets are imperfect. We analytically establish the importance of dynamic complementarity in investment for the qualitative nature of investment responses to income and policy changes. We extend the framework to incorporate dynasties and use data from the CNLSY to calibrate the model. Our benchmark steady state suggests that roughly half of young parents and 12% of old parents are borrowing constrained, while older children are unconstrained. We also identify strong complementarity between early and late investments, suggesting that policies targeted to one stage of development tend to have similar effects on investment in both stages. We use this calibrated model to study the effects of education subsidies, loans and transfers offered at different ages on early and late human capital investments and subsequent earnings in the short-run and long-run. A key lesson is that the interaction between dynamic complementarity and early borrowing constraints means that early interventions tend to be more successful than later interventions at improving human capital outcomes.

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Paper provided by University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity in its series University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers with number 20125.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:uwo:hcuwoc:20125
Contact details of provider: Postal: CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity, Social Science Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C2
Phone: 519-661-2111 Ext.85244
Web page: http://economics.uwo.ca/research/research_papers/cibc_workingpapers.html

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  1. Brant Abbott & Giovanni Gallipoli & Costas Meghir & Giovanni L. Violante, 2013. "Education Policy and Intergenerational Transfers in Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1887, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. S. Rao Aiyagari & Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri, 2001. "Efficient Investment in Children," RCER Working Papers 481, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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  17. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
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  22. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post-Secondary Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 518, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  23. Meta Brown & John Karl Scholz & Ananth Seshadri, 2010. "A New Test of Borrowing Constraints for Education," Working Papers 2011-003, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  24. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Lance Lochner, 2005. "Borrowing constraints on families with young children," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 39-48.
  25. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2004. "The Production of Cognitive Achievement in Children: Home, School and Racial Test Score Gaps," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-019, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  26. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
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  28. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 2001. "The Effect of Parental Transfers and Borrowing Constraints on Educational Attainment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1051-1103, November.
  29. Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Jonathan A. Parker, 2002. "Consumption Over the Life Cycle," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 47-89, January.
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  32. Loken, Katrine Vellesen & Mogstad, Magne & Wiswall, Matthew, 2010. "What Linear Estimators Miss: Re-Examining the Effects of Family Income on Child Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 4971, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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