Age, Human Capital and the Quality of Work: New Evidence from Old Masters
21 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2020
Date Written: March 14, 2009
The links between individual ability, human capital investment, and labor productivity are generally hard to address because productivity is unobservable. We overcome this problem by examining artist productivity as reflected in art auction prices. First, we observe an inverted-U shaped age-quality of work profile similar to the conventional age-wage profile. Second, we find that the degree of concavity increases for those with higher native ability. Third, we find that working for a patron rather than selling directly to the market is associated with a flatter age profile. Fourth, we find evidence that formal education increases the concavity of the age-quality of work profile. These results are consistent with the theory and demonstrate that artists respond to incentives to invest in human capital.
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