NBER Working Papers by Ananth Seshadri

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Working Papers

April 2009A New Test of Borrowing Constraints for Education
with Meta Brown, John Karl Scholz: w14879
We discuss a simple model of intergenerational transfers with one-sided altruism: parents care about their child but the child does not reciprocate. Parents and children make investments in the child’s education, investments for other purposes, and parents can transfer cash to their child. We show that for an identifiable set of parent-child pairs, parents will rationally under-invest in their child’s education. For these parent-child pairs, additional financial aid will increase educational attainment. The model highlights an important feature of higher education finance, the “expected family contribution” (EFC) that is based on income, assets, and other factors. The EFC is neither legally guaranteed nor universally offered: Our model identifies the set of families that are disprop...
September 2004Technological Progress and Economic Transformation
with Jeremy Greenwood: w10765
Growth theory can go a long way toward accounting for phenomena linked with U.S. economic development. Some examples are: (i) the secular decline in fertility between 1800 and 1980, (ii) the decline in agricultural employment and the rise in skill since 1800, (iii) the demise of child labor starting around 1900, (iv) the increase in female labor-force participation from 1900 to 1980, (v) the baby boom from 1936 to 1972. Growth theory models are presented to address all of these facts. The analysis emphasizes the role of technological progress as a catalyst for economic transformation.
February 2004Are Americans Saving "Optimally" for Retirement?
with John Karl Scholz, Surachai Khitatrakun: w10260
This paper examines the degree to which Americans are saving optimally for retirement. Our standard for assessing optimality comes from a life-cycle model that incorporates uncertain lifetimes, uninsurable earnings and medical expenses, progressive taxation, government transfers, and pension and social security benefit functions derived from rich household data. We solve every household''s decision problem from death to starting age and then use the decision rules in conjunction with earnings histories to make predictions about wealth in 1992. Ours is the first study to compare, household by household, wealth predictions that arise from a life-cycle model that incorporates earnings histories for a nationally representative sample. The results, based on data from the Health and Retirement S...
April 2003Frictionless Technology Diffusion: The Case of Tractors
with Rodolfo Manuelli: w9604
Empirical evidence suggests that there is a long lag between the time a new technology is introduced and the time at which it is widely adopted. The conventional wisdom is that these observations are inconsistent with the predictions of the frictionless neoclassical model. In this paper we show this to be incorrect. Once the appropriate driving forces are taken into account, the neoclassical model can account for slow' adoption. We illustrate this by developing an industry model to study the equilibrium rate of diffusion of tractors in the U.S. between 1910 and 1960.

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