Education, life expectancy and family bargaining: the Ben-Porath effect revisited

Abstract : Following Ben-Porath [1967. “The Production of Human Capital and the Life-Cycle of Earnings.” Journal of Political Economy 75 (3): 352–365], the influence of life expectancy on education and on human capital has attracted much attention among growth theorists. Whereas existing growth models rely on an education decision made either by the child or by his parent, we revisit the Ben-Porath effect by modelling education as the outcome of bargaining between the parent and the child. We develop a three-period overlapping generations (OLG) model, where human capital increases life expectancy and shows that as a result of the unequal remaining lifetimes faced by parents and children, the form of the Ben-Porath effect depends on how bargaining power is distributed within the family, which in turn affects long-run economic dynamics. Using data on 16 OECD countries (1940–1980), we show that introducing family bargaining helps to rationalize the observed education patterns across countries.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 2:42:36 PM
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Laura Leker, Grégory Ponthière. Education, life expectancy and family bargaining: the Ben-Porath effect revisited. Education Economics, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2015, 23 (4), pp.481-513. ⟨10.1080/09645292.2013.869557⟩. ⟨halshs-01155338⟩



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