Three Essays on Human Capital, Child Care and Growth, and on Mobility

Title: Three Essays on Human Capital, Child Care and Growth, and on Mobility
Authors: Alamgir-Arif, Rizwana
Date: 2012
Abstract: This thesis contributes to the fields of Public Economics and Development Economics by studying human capital formation under three scenarios. Each scenario is represented in an individual paper between Chapters 2 to 4 of this thesis. Chapter 2 examines the effect of child care financing, through human capital formation, on growth and welfare. There is an extensive literature on the benefits of child care affordability on labour market participation. The overall inference that can be drawn is that the availability and affordability of appropriate child care may enhance parental time spent outside the home in furthering their economic opportunities. In another front, the endogenous growth literature exemplifies the merits of subsidizing human capital in generating growth. Again, other contributions demonstrate the negative implications of taxes on the returns from human capital on long run growth and welfare. This paper assesses the long run welfare implications of child care subsidies financed by proportional income taxes when human capital serves as the engine of growth. More specifically, using an overlapping-generations framework (OLG) with endogenous labour choice, we study the implications of a distortionary wage income tax on growth and welfare. When the revenues from proportional income taxes are channelled towards improving economic opportunities for both work and schooling investments in the form of child care subsidies, long run physical and human capital stock may increase. A higher level of growth may ensue leading to higher welfare. Chapter 3 answers the question of how child care subsidization works in the interest of skill formation, and specifically, whether child care subsidization policies can work to the effect of human capital subsidies. Ample studies have highlighted the significance of early childhood learning through child care in determining the child’s longer-term outcomes. The general conclusion has been that the quality of life for a child, higher earnings during later life, as well as the contributions the child makes to society as an adult can be traced back to exposures during the first few years of life. Early childhood education obtained through child care has been found to play a pivotal role in the human capital base amongst children that can benefit them in the long run. Based on this premise, the paper develops a simple Overlapping Generations Model (OLG) to find out the implications of early learning on future investments in human capital. It is shown that higher costs of child care will reduce skill investments of parents. Also, for some positive child care cost, higher human capital obtained through early childhood education can induce further skill investments amongst individuals with a higher willingness to substitute consumption intertemporally. Finally, intervention that can internalize the intra-generational human capital externalities arising from parental time spent outside the home - for which care/early learning is required to be purchased for the child - can unambiguously lead to higher skill investments by all individuals. Chapter 3 therefore proposes policy intervention, such as child care subsidization, as the effect of such will be akin to a human capital subsidy. The objective of Chapter 4 is to understand the implications of inter-regional mobility on higher educational investments of individuals and to study in detail the impact of mobility on government spending for education under two particular scenarios – one in which human capital externalities are non-localized and spill over to other regions (e.g. in the form of R&D), and another in which the externalities are localized and remain within the region. It is shown that mobility enhances private investments in education, and all else equal, welfare should be higher with increased migration. The impacts on government educational expenditures are studied and some policy implications are drawn. In general, with non-localized externalities, all public expenditures decline under full-migration. Finally under localized externalities, the paper finds that governments will increase their financing of education to increasingly mobile individuals only when agglomeration benefits outweigh congestion costs from increases in regional population.
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