Life-cycle human capital accumulation across countries: Lessons from US immigrants

David Lagakos, Benjamin Moll, Tommaso Porzio, Nancy Qian, Todd Schoellman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This paper assesses cross-country variation in life-cycle human capital accumulation, using new evidence fromUS immigrants. The returns to experience accumulated in an immigrant’s birth country before migrating are positively correlated with birth-country GDP per capita. To understand this fact, we build a model of life-cycle human capital accumulation that features three potential theories: differential human capital accumulation, differential selection, and differential skill loss.We use new data on the characteristics of immigrants and nonmigrants froma large set of countries to distinguish between these theories. The most likely theory is that immigrants from poor countries accumulate less human capital in their birth countries before migrating. Our findings imply that life-cycle human capital stocks are much larger in rich countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-342
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of Human Capital
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Economics, Econometrics and Finance


Dive into the research topics of 'Life-cycle human capital accumulation across countries: Lessons from US immigrants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this