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Expectations, assignment of talent and inequality: Europe vs. USA

11th National Competition for Economic Research Grants

Labour economics

Senior Researcher : Alessandra Bonfiglioli

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Research Centre or Institution : Instituto de Análisis Económico. CSIC. Barcelona.


Developed countries differ markedly with regard to a number of social and economic indicators. In particular, income inequality, per capita GDP, labour productivity and school enrolment are all higher in the USA than in Europe. In addition, in southern Europe there is a higher proportion of small, less productive companies than in the USA. Though understanding those differences is undoubtedly important, from both the positive point of view and for the design of industrial and education policies, their origins remain largely unexplained.

The aim of this project is to show what important and persistent differences in these indicators may arise as alternative balances, sustained by different expectations, albeit all rational, of the role of human capital in the determination of individual success in the economic field. To do this, a theoretical model will be developed with heterogeneous companies and workers, frictions in the labour market and investment in human capital generating multiple equilibriums, before undertaking its structural estimation. This model, adequately estimated, will provide new criteria for the evaluation of industrial and education policies.

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