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Human Capital Investment and Debt Constraints

Author

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  • David Andolfatto

    (Simon Fraser University)

  • Martin Gervais

    (University of Western Ontario)

Abstract

When young individuals face binding debt constraints, their human capital investments will be insufficiently financed by private creditors. If generations overlap, then a well-designed fiscal policy may be able to improve human capital investments by replacing missing capital markets with an intergenerational transfer scheme. Boldrin and Monte (2002) demonstrate that the optimal (balanced budget) fiscal policy in this context entails the joint provision of an education subsidy for the young and a pension program for the old, financed with a tax on those in their peak earning years. We demonstrate, however, that the desirability of such a policy depends crucially on the assumption of an exogenous debt constraint. If debt constraints arise endogenously for reasons of limited commitment, then the optimal (balanced budget) fiscal policy looks radically different. Furthermore, we find that arbitrary (non-optimal) policy interventions may actually lead to lower levels of human capital investment as altered default incentives induce private creditors to contract the supply of student loans by an amount greater than the subsidy. In some cases, the constrained-optimal policy entails zero intervention. These results highlight the importance of taking seriously the reasons for why debt constraints exist, before recommending any specific policy intervention.

Suggested Citation

  • David Andolfatto & Martin Gervais, 2004. "Human Capital Investment and Debt Constraints," Labor and Demography 0412006, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0412006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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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    Cited by:

    1. Lance Lochner & Alexander Monge-Naranjo, 2012. "Credit Constraints in Education," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 225-256, July.
    2. Azariadis, Costas & Kaas, Leo, 2013. "Endogenous credit limits with small default costs," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(2), pages 806-824.
    3. Lance J. Lochner & Alexander Monge-Naranjo, 2011. "The Nature of Credit Constraints and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2487-2529, October.
    4. Tom Krebs & Moritz Kuhn & Mark L. J. Wright, 2015. "Human Capital Risk, Contract Enforcement, and the Macroeconomy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(11), pages 3223-3272, November.
    5. Boldrin, Michele & Montes, Ana, 2015. "Modeling an immigration shock," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 190-206.
    6. David Croix & Philippe Michel, 2007. "Education and growth with endogenous debt constraints," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(3), pages 509-530, December.
    7. Bernhard Eckwert & Itzhak Zilcha, 2017. "Student loans: When is risk sharing desirable?," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 13(2), pages 217-231, June.
    8. Bhattacharya, Joydeep & Qiao, Xue & Wang, Min, 2016. "Endogenous Borrowing Constraints And Wealth Inequality," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(06), pages 1413-1431, September.
    9. Miyazaki, Koichi, 2016. "Student loans, fertility, and economic growth," MPRA Paper 71604, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Wang, Min, 2010. "Essays on Environment, Natural Resource, Growth and Development," ISU General Staff Papers 201001010800002824, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    11. Min Wang, 2014. "Optimal education policies under endogenous borrowing constraints," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 55(1), pages 135-159, January.
    12. Erasmo Papagni, 2008. "The Long-run Effects of Household Liquidity Constraints and Taxation on Fertility, Education, Saving, and Growth," Discussion Papers 11_2008, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
    13. Andolfatto, David & Gervais, Martin, 2008. "Endogenous debt constraints in a life-cycle model with an application to social security," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(12), pages 3745-3759, December.
    14. Satyajit Chatterjee & Felicia Ionescu, 2012. "Insuring student loans against the financial risk of failing to complete college," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(3), pages 393-420, November.
    15. Bas Jacobs & Hongyan Yang, 2016. "Second-best income taxation and education policy with endogenous human capital and borrowing constraints," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(2), pages 234-268, April.
    16. Maria Sarigiannidou & Theodore Palivos, 2012. "A Modern Theory of Kuznets’ Hypothesis," Working Papers 201202, Texas Christian University, Department of Economics.
    17. Tom Krebs & Moritz Kuhn & Mark Wright, 2017. "Under-Insurance in Human Capital Models with Limited Enforcement," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 25, pages 121-150, April.
    18. Torben M. Andersen & Joydeep Bhattacharya, 2013. "The Intergenerational Welfare State," CESifo Working Paper Series 4359, CESifo Group Munich.

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    • J - Labor and Demographic Economics

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