A Racial Inequality Trap
Why has the U.S. black/white earnings gap remained around 40 percent for nearly 40 years? This paper''s answer consists of a model of skill accumulation and neighborhood formation featuring a trap: Initial racial inequality and racial preferences induce racial segregation and asymmetric skill accumulation choices that perpetuate racial inequality. Calibrated to match the U.S. distribution of race, house prices and earnings across neighborhoods, the model produces one-half of the observed racial earnings gap. Moving the economy from the trap to a racially integrated steady state implies a 15.6 ...
Human capital dynamics and the U.S. labor market
Taxing top earners: a human capital perspective
We assess the consequences of substantially increasing the marginal tax rate on U.S. top earners using a human capital model. The top of the model Laffer curve occurs at a 53 percent top tax rate. Tax revenues and the tax rate at the top of the Laffer curve are smaller compared to an otherwise similar model that ignores the possibility of skill change in response to a tax reform. We also show that if one applies the methods used by Diamond and Saez (2011) to provide quantitative guidance for setting the tax rate on top earners to model data then the resulting tax rate exceeds the tax rate at ...
Who Values Access to College?
At first glance, college appears to be of great value to most, given its mean returns and sharply subsidized tuition. An empirically-disciplined human capital model that allows for variation in college readiness suggests otherwise: Nearly half of high school completers place zero value on access to college. This renders blanket subsidies potentially inefficient. As proof of principle, we show that redirecting subsidies away from those who would nonetheless enroll--towards a stock index retirement fund for those who do not even when college is subsidized--increases ex-ante welfare by 1 percent ...
What is the source of the intergenerational correlation in earnings?
This paper uses a dynastic model of household behavior to estimate and decomposed the correlations in earnings across generations. The estimate model can explain 75% to 80% of the observed correlation in lifetime earnings between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, and families across generations. The main results are that the family and division of labor within the household are the main source of the correlation across generation and not just assorting mating. The interaction of human capital accumulation in labor market, the nonlinear return to part-time versus full-time work, and the ...
Natural Resources and Global Misallocation
We explore the efficiency in the allocation of physical capital and human capital across countries. The observed marginal products can differ across countries because of differences in technology (i.e. production functions) and in distortions (i.e. differences in use of factors) across countries. To identify differences in technology, we use new data and propose a simple method to estimate output shares of natural resources, and thus adjust the estimated marginal products of physical and human capital. With a sample of 79 countries from 1970 to 2005, we find that the world has decidedly moved ...
Neighborhood Dynamics and the Distribution of Opportunity
Wilson (1987) argued that policies ending racial discrimination would not equalize opportunity without addressing residential sorting and neighborhood externalities. This paper studies related counterfactual policies using an overlapping-generations dynamic general equilibrium model of residential sorting and intergenerational human capital accumulation. In the model, households choose where to live and how much to invest toward the production of their child?s human capital. The return on parents? investment is determined in part by the child?s ability and in part by an externality determined ...
Long-Term Unemployment: Attached and Mismatched?
In this paper, I quantify the contribution of occupation-specific shocks and skills to unemployment duration and its cyclical dynamics. I quantify specific skills using microdata on wages, estimating occupational switching cost as a function of the occupations' difference in skills. The productivity shocks are consistent with job finding rates by occupation. For the period 1995-2013, the model captures 69.5% of long-term unemployment in the data, while a uniform finding rate delivers only 47.2%. In the Great Recession, the model predicts 72.9% of the long-term unemployment that existed in the ...
Why did Rich Families Increase their Fertility? Inequality and Marketization of Child Care
A negative relationship between income and fertility has persisted for so long that its existence is often taken for granted. One economic theory builds on this relationship and argues that rising inequality leads to greater differential fertility between rich and poor. We show that the relationship between income and fertility has ?attened between 1980 and 2010 in the US, a time of increasing inequality, as high income families increased their fertility. These facts challenge the standard theory. We propose that marketization of parental time costs can explain the changing relationship ...