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Experience vs. Obsolescence: A Vintage-Human-Capital Model

Kredler, Matthias (2008): Experience vs. Obsolescence: A Vintage-Human-Capital Model.

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Abstract

I combine an infinite-horizon version of Ben-Porath’s (1967) model of human-capital accumulation with a vintage structure as in Chari & Hopenhayn (1991). Different skill levelsinside a vintage are complementary in production. Vintage-specific human capital is accumulated based on workers’ optimal strategies and is lost when the technology is phased out by an endogenous firm decision. I establish equivalence between competitive equilibrium and a planner’s problem. It is shown that returns to skill are highest in young vintages. Accelerated technological change shortens the life cycle of a technology and speeds up obsolescence; the premium on tenure rises because more workers are concentrated in young technologies with high skill premia. A calibration exercise comparing two steady states shows that the model quantitatively accounts for the changes in the experience premium, earnings dispersion and earnings turbulence in German data.

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