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Human Capital Pricing Equations with an Application to Estimating the Effect of Schooling Quality on Earnings

James Heckman, Anne Layne-Farrar and Petra Todd
The Review of Economics and Statistics
Vol. 78, No. 4 (Nov., 1996), pp. 562-610
Published by: The MIT Press
DOI: 10.2307/2109948
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2109948
Page Count: 49
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Human Capital Pricing Equations with an Application to Estimating the Effect of Schooling Quality on Earnings
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Abstract

This paper formulates and estimates alternative models for the pricing of labor services. We present economic models that rationalize empirical specifications in the literature and we offer evidence on the validity of those specifications. Widely used efficiency units models of labor services are inconsistent with evidence from the U.S. labor market. A model of heterogeneous skills provides a more accurate description of earnings data. We present evidence that the pursuit of comparative advantage and selective migration are important features of the U.S. labor market. When these features are included in the model, the only support for an effect of schooling quality on earnings is through the return to college education. Three interactions are empirically important in explaining log wage equations: (A) between schooling quality and education, (B) between regional labor market shocks and education and (C) between region-of-residence and region-of-birth. Because of this third interaction, which can arise from comparative advantage in the labor market, no unique quality effect on returns to education can be defined independently of the market in which it is used.

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