nep-hrm New Economics Papers
on Human Capital and Human Resource Management
Issue of 2009‒03‒28
six papers chosen by
Fabio Sabatini
University of Siena

  1. Was Weber Wrong? A Human Capital Theory of Protestant Economic History: A Comment on Becker and Woessmann By Christoph A. Schaltegger; Benno Torgler
  2. The Occupations and Human Capital of U.S. Immigrants By Schoellman, Todd
  3. Immigration and Inequality By David Card
  4. Are returns to mothers' human capital realized in the next generation?: The impact of mothers' intellectual human capital and long-run nutritional status on children's human capital in Guatemala By Behrman, Jere R.; Murphy, Alexis; Quisumbing, Agnes R.; Yount, Kathryn
  5. Intergenerational Complementarities in Education and the Relationship between Growth and Volatility By Theodore Palivos; Dimitrios Varvarigos
  6. Education-Based Wage Differentials and Regional Patterns : The Case of Canadian Registered Nurses By Lee, Heyung-Jik

  1. By: Christoph A. Schaltegger; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: This comment makes a contribution to Becker and Woessmann’s paper on a human capital theory of Protestant economic history eventually challenging the famous thesis by Max Weber who attributed economic success to a specific Protestant work ethic (Quarterly Journal of Economics 124 (2) (2009) forthcoming). The authors argue for a human capital approach: higher literacy among Protestants of the 19th century (and not a Protestant work ethic) contributed to higher economic prosperity at that point in history. However, the paper leaves the question open as to whether a Protestant specific work ethic existed or exists at all. Are there observable denomination-based differences in work ethic or is Protestantism only a veil hiding the underlying role of education? We use recent data to explore the role of Protestantism on work ethic. The results indicate that today’s work ethic in fact is influenced by denomination-based religiosity and also education.
    Keywords: Religion; Work Ethic; Protestantism; Education
    JEL: Z12 I20 J24
    Date: 2009–03
  2. By: Schoellman, Todd
    Abstract: This paper estimates the multi-dimensional human capital endowments of immigrants by characterizing their occupational decisions. This approach allows for estimation of physical skill and cognitive ability endowments, which are difficult to measure directly. Estimation implies that immigrants as a whole are abundant in cognitive ability and scarce in experience/training and communication skills. Counterfactual estimates of the wage impacts of immigration are skewed: the largest gain from preventing immigration is 3.2% higher wages, but the largest loss is 0.3% lower wages. Crowding of immigrants into select occupations plays a minor role in explaining these impacts; occupations’ skill attributes explain the bulk.
    Keywords: Immigration; occupations; wages
    JEL: F22 J31 J24
    Date: 2009–03–23
  3. By: David Card (University of California Berkeley)
    Abstract: Immigration is often viewed as a proximate cause of the rising wage gap between high- and low-skilled workers. Nevertheless, there is controversy over the appropriate theoretical and empirical framework for measuring the presumed effect, and over the precise magnitudes involved. This paper offers an overview and synthesis of existing knowledge on the relationship between immigration and inequality, focusing on evidence from cross-city comparisons in the U.S. While some researchers have claimed that a cross-city research design is inherently flawed, I argue that the evidence from cross-city comparisons is remarkably consistent with recent findings based on aggregate time series data. In particular, cross-city and aggregate time series comparisons provide support for three key conclusions: (1) workers with below high school education are perfect substitutes for those with a high school education; (2) “high school equivalent” and “college equivalent” workers are imperfect substitutes, with an elasticity of substitution on the order of 2; (3) within education groups, immigrants and natives are imperfect substitutes. Together these results imply that the average impacts of recent immigrant inflows on the relative wages of U.S. natives are small. The effects on overall wage inequality (including natives and immigrants) are larger, reflecting the concentration of immigrants in the tails of the skill distribution and higher residual inequality among immigrants than natives. Even so, immigration accounts for a small share (5%) of the increase in U.S. wage inequality between 1980 and 2000.
    Date: 2009–01
  4. By: Behrman, Jere R.; Murphy, Alexis; Quisumbing, Agnes R.; Yount, Kathryn
    Abstract: "Many prior studies find significant cross-sectional positive ordinary least squares (OLS) associations between maternal human capital (usually maternal schooling attainment) and children's human capital (usually children's schooling, but in some cases children's nutritional status). This paper uses rich Guatemalan longitudinal data collected over 35 years to explore several limitations of these “standard” estimates. The preferred estimates developed herein suggest that (1) maternal human capital is more important than suggested by the standard estimates; (2) maternal cognitive skills have a greater impact than maternal schooling attainment on children's biological human capital; and (3) for some important indicators of children's human capital, maternal biological capital has larger effect sizes than maternal intellectual capital (schooling and cognitive skills). These results imply that breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty, malnutrition, and intellectual deprivation through investments in women's human capital may be more effective than previously suggested, but it will require approaches that account for dimensions of women's human capital beyond just their schooling. Effective interventions to improve women's biological and intellectual human capital often begin in utero or in early childhood; thus, their realization will take longer than if more schooling were the only relevant channel." from authors' abstract
    Keywords: Maternal human capital, Cognitive skills, Nutritional status, Child outcomes, Poverty, Women,
    Date: 2009
  5. By: Theodore Palivos; Dimitrios Varvarigos
    Abstract: We construct an overlapping generations model in which parents vote on the tax rate that determines publicly provided education and offspring choose their effort in learning activities. The technology governing the accumulation of human capital allows these decisions to be strategic complements. In the presence of coordination failure, indeterminacy and, possibly, growth cycles emerge. In the absence of coordination failure, the economy moves along a uniquely determined balanced growth path. We argue that such structural differences can account for the negative correlation between volatility and growth.
    Keywords: Human Capital; Economic Growth; Volatility
    JEL: O41
    Date: 2009–03
  6. By: Lee, Heyung-Jik
    Abstract: This paper examines the monetary returns from a baccalaureate degree for the nursing education compared to a diploma across five regions in Canada. It engages me in employing benefit-cost analysis to assess whether the evidence is consistent with implications of human capital theory. Depending on the assumed discount rate and retirement age, the estimated baccalaureate-diploma wage differentials vary in each Canadian region. In this study, I conclude that the decision to invest in one more year of nursing education is economically rational only for the registered nurses who work in Eastern Canada.
    Date: 2009–03

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