February 2006

IZA DP No. 1962: The Risk-Return Trade-Off in Human Capital Investment

revised version published in: Labour Economics, 2007, 14 (6), 971-986

In this paper we analyze investments in human capital assets in a way which is standard for financial assets, but not (yet) for human capital assets. We study mean-variance plots of human capital assets. We compare the properties of human capital returns using a performance measure and by using tests for mean-variance spanning. A risk-return trade-off is revealed, which is not only related to the length of education but also to the type of education. We identify a range of educations that are efficient in terms of investment goods, and a range of educations that are inefficient, and may be chosen for consumption purposes.