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Galton versus the Human Capital Approach to Inheritance

Casey B. Mulligan
Journal of Political Economy
Vol. 107, No. S6 (December 1999), pp. S184-S224
DOI: 10.1086/250108
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/250108
Page Count: 41
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Galton versus the Human Capital Approach to Inheritance
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Abstract

A century ago, Francis Galton proposed a simple yet powerful model of inheritance. Gary Backer's human capital model is often used to analyze important empirical and policy questions, but does it dominate Galton's from a positive point of view? I derive nine implicatiions of the human capital approach that are distinct from Galton's. Evidence from the PIS, SCF, and NLSY micro data sets as well as results reported in previous literatures suggest that four of the unique implications are refuted. two implications are verified, and mixed results are obtained for three others. Some extensions of economics recently developed by Becker and others, when applied to inheritance, may improve economics' predictions.

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