Tuesday, August 12, 2014

12/8/2014: Experience, Earnings & differences Between Economies

In the previous post, I summarised recent research paper on entrepreneurial learning-by-doing (http://trueeconomics.blogspot.it/2014/08/1082014-serial-entrepreneurship.html). Here are some other recent papers on the topic of entrepreneurship and human capital.

First paper is by Lagakos, David and Moll, Benjamin and Porzio, Tommaso and Qian, Nancy, titled "Experience Matters: Human Capital and Development Accounting" (December 2012, CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP9253: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2210223). The authors use micro-level data from 36 countries to look at evolution (over time) of ratios of experience-to-earnings. They find that the ratios profiles are flatter in poor countries than in advanced economies. In other words, experience-linked returns are flatter in poorer economies, or put differently: for each year gained in experience, poor country workers gain less in earnings than their rich countries counterparts.

The paper does not aim to explain the reasons for this empirical regularity, though the authors do say that "…composition differences [of workers (e.g., by schooling attainment or sector of work)] explain very little of the cross-country differences in the steepness of experience-earnings profiles. …Amongst other possible explanations, we note that our main finding that experience-earnings profiles are flatter in poorer countries is consistent with a class of theories in which TFP and experience human capital accumulation are complementary (i.e., low TFP in poor countries depresses the incentives to accumulate human capital)."

What the authors do, however, is look at the role that differences in experience-earnings profiles found between countries can have on levels of development. "When the country-specific returns to experience are interpreted in such a development accounting framework -- and are therefore accounted for as part of human capital -- we find that human and physical capital differences can account for almost two thirds of the variation in cross-country income differences, as compared to less than half in previous studies."

Specifically, on human capital side, "We calculate the part of human capital due to experience and show that this is positively correlated with income, and furthermore that its cross-country dispersion is similar in magnitude to the dispersion of human capital due to schooling."

In the forthcoming article in the Village magazine, I challenge Thomas Piketty's interpretation of income and wealth inequality data, in part, on the grounds of his failure to reflect the role of human capital in generating financial returns. It looks like the above study provides some more support for my arguments.

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