Progress in Human Capital Analysis of the Distribution of Earnings
67 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2004 Last revised: 26 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 1974
The traditional studies of income distribution, a field with which economists are becoming increasingly concerned, must be described as basically sociological. The ascendancy of the human capital approach can be viewed as a reaction of economists to this non-economic, though certainly not irrelevant, tradition. In stressing the role played by individual and family optimizing decisions in human capital investments, important aspects of income determination are brought back within the mainstream of economic theory and within the power of its analytical and econometric tools. Human capital is not the only element of choice in the analysis of income distribution . Nevertheless, it appears that the subject of human capital investments lends itself to a more systematic and comprehensive analysis of wage differentials, than each of the other factors. The following is a description of research in the distribution of labor incomes in which human capital theory serves as an organizing principle. It is, in part, a sequel to my 1970 survey and, in part, a report of ongoing research of my own and of others.
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