4of19 - Human Capital, and Intergenerational Mobility - Human capital transmission in the family





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Published on Jan 7, 2011

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This the fourth lecture in the "Lectures on Human Capital" series by Gary Becker. This series of lectures recorded during the Spring of 2010 are from ECON 343 - Human Capital, a class taught every year by Gary Becker at the University of Chicago. In this class, Becker expounds upon the theory of Human Capital that he helped create and for which he won the Nobel Prize. Please see attached lecture notes, video annotations, and reading list for more information.


Professor Becker introduces a new parameter in the model that he introduced in Lecture 2 and Lecture 3: the human capital of the parents. He explains in which situation this model adjusts accurately to real world situations. Thus, he begins the crucial discussion and modeling of how human capital of parents affects the human capital of their children.

Also, he defines and points out the recursive property of human capital. Then, Becker discusses the microeconomic and macroeconomic consequences of such a property.

He introduces and explains a technical and economic property of the household production function: the complementary property between investment of human capital of the kids and human capital of the parents. Furthermore, he explains how the human capital of the parents influences the rate of return of investments in human capital. Finally, he points out the implications for intergenerational income mobility in this new context.

Key concepts: complementary between human capital investment of parents and their children, human capital of the parents, intergenerational income mobility, rate of return, recursive property of human capital, rate of return.

Main discussions:
• Lecture 4, (1:10-07:50): Professor Becker explains the technical and economic consequences of introducing the human capital of the parents as a parameter of the model developed in Lecture 2 and Lecture 3. He links this explanation to the recursive property of human capital. The explanations of the microeconomic and macroeconomic consequences of such a property are done in this part of the clip too.
• Lecture 4, (09:20-11:10): Professor Becker emphasizes the properties of the household production function spanned by the human capital of the parents.
• Lecture 4, (15:10-17:40): Professor Becker explains the economic growth consequences of human capital investment in kids.
• Lecture 4, (01:02:00-01:10:00): Professor Becker analyzes the trade-off between equity and efficiency in the model developed in this lecture.

Main quotes:
• "I remember when I was going into Kindergarten... I was worried if I'll be able to learn the alphabet (...) you worry about that sometimes."
• "(...) every theory is tested by how well it helps you understanding the world..." • "The production of human capital is intensive in human capital."

• Salvador Navarro Lozano. Notes on Gary Becker's Human Capital and the Economy. pp. 11-13.
• Chapter X: Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families in Becker, Gary. 1974. Human Capital. Third ed. pp. 257-298.


Lecture Notes:

Reading List:

Video Annotations:

  • Category

  • License

    • Standard YouTube License


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