Investments in Human Capital : Education and Training. “Embodying a set of skills that can be ‘rented out’ to employers”. Human Capital Physical Capital. Economic reasoning utilizes a lot of metaphors and often involves thinking by analogy. . Three major labor market investments -.
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“Embodying a set of skills that can be ‘rented out’ to employers”
Human Capital Physical Capital
Economic reasoning utilizes a lot of metaphors and often involves thinking by analogy.
Three major labor market investments -
Education and training
Search for new jobs
In the fall of 1984, my wife and I arrived in California to teach at Pomona College for two years. My in-laws lived nearby and as a welcoming gift they gave us a check
for $85, saying that they wanted us to use the money to buy a vanity license plate. Steve, my wife’s dad, said that vanity license plates cost $50 for the first year and then $35 each year that you renew them. Looking at the $85, I said, “You gave us too much.” If the interest rate was 5 percent, how much extra did they give us?
When we pay the renewal fee in the second year we will have $1.75 left over. Hence, my in-laws gave us too much!!! What they should have done was solve for where
Story of Michael Chen (“The Snakehead,” The New Yorker)
In 1991, when Michael was 18 years old, his parents paid a snakehead $5,000 and agreed to pay another $25,000 when he safely arrived in the U.S. During his journey, he “passed the remains of other Chinese who did not survive the mountains” and survived the shipwreck of the Golden Venture on Rockaway penninsula in Queens, New York. Today, he owns a “spotless” Chinese restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Had he stayed in China, he might have been one of millions of farmers or fishermen, “working like slaves,” with little chance of changing their lives. He would have also had to abide by China’s family planning policy, better known as its one-child policy.
Benefits and Costs of the Migration Decision
Let’s initially ignore psychic benefits and costs, and physical risk,
Future Benefits =
Age of Worker
Age of Worker
Two ways to determine whether it pays to migrate (or to go to college, etc)
PV=0 if r*=.394
r = discount rate
Future Benefits =
Age of Worker
or migrating to another country, are more likely to be
by future-oriented people, those with lower discount rates.
by the young and those with greater ability.
as costs decrease (e.g, ↓ smuggling fee)
as the earnings premium increases (e.g. ↑wUS-wChina)
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 had the (unintended) effect of making it easier to get “green cards” by forging work histories.
President Bush signed an executive orders granting amnesty to Chinese students following 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.
President Bush signed another executive order giving “enhanced consideration” for asylum to people opposing China’s family planning policies.
Result: “The largest influx of illegal Chinese in the country's history entered the United States between 1988 and 1993 (The New Yorker, 4/24/2006).
($ per year)
21 27 32 37 42 47 52
Op-Ed editor of
The New York Times.
Daily Californian reporter covering Berkeley riots (1970)
In a recent interview, Trish Hall was asked how her career would have been different if she had started college in 1963 rather than 1968.
I actually know a lot of women working at newpapers who are five or ten years older and it’s completely different. When I got to The New York Times and I was the deputy food editor, there was a woman who was like an assistant, really a secretary, and she had gone to a seven sisters college—I think she had gone to Wellesley—and she was married to a lawyer and she was smart… and she was a secretary. I mean, she could have probably done more because there were women from older generations who had done more but it wasn’t really strange for her not to have done more whereas anybody my age it would have been really strange.
Suppose Trish Hall was offered a job in 1972 as an assistant at The New York Times that would have paid her $25 thousand per year but offered no prospect of advancement, creating the flat earnings profile labeled in Figure 1. Suppose she also had an offer from a small newspaper that would pay her $10 thousand a year but would have her write and edit a lot of articles. She realized that working for the small newspaper would be an investment where she would sacrifice some earnings today for higher earnings in the future. In particular, suppose her potential earnings over the 40 years of her working life if she accepted the job at the small newspaper would be:
The amount she would invest at every age would be
Interviewer : How much do you think your reporting now echoes 1968 and 1969, like how… Do you think that you see events differently because of that perspective?
Trish: You know…. I have no way of knowing because… you have the life you have.
Trish is saying that she doesn’t know what to compare her experiences with—she needs some comparison group to make inferences about how her reporting was affected by being at Berkeley. Empirical economists frequently make comparisons using observational data, and need to be skeptical about the validity of their comparisons. It would be easier to make inferences if economists could more frequently conduct controlled experiments.
There is an omitted variable in the error term of the conventional equation.
is the OLS estimator of
You can show that
Omitted variable bias term
Students with greater drive are more likely to be found at schools with high average SAT scores.
Students with greater drive are likely to have higher adult earnings.
Variances are always positive
Hence, is likely to be an upward biased estimate of if you don’t control for the DRIVE of students. The effect of going to prestigious colleges on adult earnings is overestimated because prestigious colleges have a greater proportion of ambitious (or driven) students and ambition (or Drive) is an important determinant of adult earnings.
Estimated effect of College SAT Score on adult earnings is likely to be smaller when you control for the drive of the students
Drive of Students
Dale & Krueger Model:
The average score of the colleges that the student applied to () is Dale & Krueger’s proxy for the drive of the student
An additional 100 points in the average SAT score of a college is associated with 5.6% higher adult earnings holding the SAT scores of the student constant. When you control for the average scores of the colleges that the student applied to, the estimated effect of the quality of the college they attend is no longer a statistically significant determinant of adult earnings.
Very Selective Sample of Colleges
Upper bound estimate is economically meaningful …
Evidence that peer effects are very important
Student Heterogeneity & matching… Which school has the best economics department? The best math department? The best computer science major?
Poor investment if you don’t study.