Year of Publication

2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Dr. James P. Ziliak

Abstract

This dissertation consists of three essays concerning the effects of human capital and health capital on the labor market. Chapter 1 presents a structural model that incorporates a health capital stock to the traditional learning-by-doing model. The model allows health to affect future wages by interrupting current labor supply and on-the-job human capital accumulation. Using data on sick time from the Panel Study Income of Dynamics the model is estimated using a nonlinear Generalized Method of Moments estimator. The results show human capital production exhibits diminishing returns. Health capital production increases with the current stock of health capital, or better current health improves future health. Among prime age working men, the effect of health on human capital accumulation is relatively small. Chapter 2 explores the role of another form of human capital, noncognitive skills, in explaining racial gaps in wages. Chapter 2 adds two noncognitive skills, locus of control and self-esteem, to a simple wage specification to determine the effect of these skills on the racial wage gap (white, black, and Hispanic) and the return to these skills across the wage distribution. The wage specifications are estimated using pooled, between, and quantile estimators. Results using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 show these skills account for differing portions of the racial wage gap depending on race and gender. Chapter 3 synthesizes the idea of health and on-the-job human capital accumulation from Chapter 1 with the idea of noncognitive skills in Chapter 2 to examine the influence of these skills on human capital and health capital accumulation in adult life. Chapter 3 introduces noncognitive skills to a life cycle labor supply model with endogenous health and human capital accumulation. Noncognitive skills, measured by degree of future orientation, self-efficacy, trust-hostility, and aspirations, exogenously affect human capital and health production. The model uses noncognitive skills assessed in the early years of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and relates these skills to health and human capital accumulation during adult life. The main findings suggest individuals with high self-efficacy receive higher future wages.

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