5of19 - Human Capital, and Intergenerational Mobility - Inheritance of ability





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Published on Jan 7, 2011

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This the fifth 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 explains and illustrates the differences between cognitive and non- cognitive abilities. Subsequently, he introduces ability in the model that was developed in the last lectures. He explains what happens to the choice variables of the model when ability increases.

Then, he develops a model of intergenerational transmission of ability that allows for children to inherit ability from their parents. He links this transmission process to intergenerational income mobility. Also, he explains how both of these processes behave in the context of perfect capital markets. Finally, he shows how the equilibrium inequality is measured in this model.

Key concepts: inheritance of ability, cognitive and non-cognitive abilities, equilibrium inequality, degree of inheritance, intergenerational income mobility.

Main discussions:
• Lecture 5, (10:35-15:45): Professor Becker goes through a comparative statics exercise to explain how an increase in a child's ability affects investment in human capital.

Main quotes:
• "Every parent thinks (...) they have a genius at home... at least until the kids reach a certain age where the evidence becomes overwhelming". (Lecture 5.1, minute 7:55-8:10).
• "People that ask more questions will learn more... that's what students don't realize. That doesn't mean you should just be asking questions... it's an equilibrium result".

• Salvador Navarro Lozano. Notes on Gary Becker's Human Capital and the Economy. pp. 13-16.
• Supplement to Chapter 7: The Rise and Fall of Families in Becker Gary. A Treatise on the Family. Enlarged ed. pp. 238-276.


Lecture Notes:

Reading List:

Video Annotations:


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