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The Dispersion of Intra-Household Human Capital Across Children: A Measurement Strategy and Evidence

  • Andrew W. Horowitz


    (Department of Economics, Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkandas and Fundacao Getulio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

  • Andre Portela Souza


    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University, Department of Economics and University of Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Human capital accumulation has long been recognized as critical to economic growth and development. In recent years focus on the intra-household distribution of human capital has intensified both theoretically and empirically. However, connecting the theoretical and empirical literature has been impeded by the difficulty in measuring human intra-household capital levels � particularly for children in the midst of the accumulation process. In this paper we approach this issue using the intra-household dispersion of the rate of progress through the education system as a proxy for the final dispersion of intra-household human capital. Focusing on intra-household dispersion avoids many of the problematic issues associated with measures of human capital levels. Using Brazilian data we identify a previously unreported relationship between the intra-household dispersion of this observable human capital (OHK) and household income. We explore various explanations and implications of this pattern, and argue that this relationship is consistent with the inefficient distribution of intra-household human capital suggested by recent theoretical work.

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Paper provided by Vanderbilt University Department of Economics in its series Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers with number 0408.

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Date of creation: Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0408
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  1. 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.
  2. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2000. "Is Child Labor Inefficient?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 663-679, August.
  3. Gomes-Neto, Joao Batista & Hanushek, Eric A, 1994. "Causes and Consequences of Grade Repetition: Evidence from Brazil," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 117-48, October.
  4. Emerson, Patrick M. & Souza, André Portela, 2008. "Birth Order, Child Labor, and School Attendance in Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 1647-1664, September.
  5. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1995. "Race, Children's Cognitive Achievement and The Bell Curve," NBER Working Papers 5240, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Kaushik Basu, 1999. "Child Labor: Cause, Consequence, and Cure, with Remarks on International Labor Standards," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1083-1119, September.
  7. Jong-Wha Lee & Robert J. Barro, 1997. "Schooling Quality in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 6198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Kaushik Basu & Zafiris Tzannatos, 2003. "The Global Child Labor Problem: What Do We Know and What Can We Do?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(2), pages 147-173, December.
  9. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
  10. Horowitz, Andrew W. & Wang, Jian, 2004. "Favorite son? Specialized child laborers and students in poor LDC households," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 631-642, April.
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