Solomon Polachek

Distinguished Professor

State University of New York at Binghamton (Binghamton University)

NLS user since early 1970s

  • Jacob Mincer and Solomon Polachek, "Family Investments in Human Capital: Earnings of Women," Journal of Political Economy, March/April 1974 82(2): S76-S108; reprinted in T.W. Schultz (ed.) Family Economics: Marriage, Human Capital, and Fertility, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press for the National Bureau of Economic Research), 1974; in The Economics of Women and Work, Alice Amsden, (ed.) (New York: St. Martins Press), 1980; and in Studies in Human Capital, Edward Elgar Press, 1993; in Gender and Economics, (J. Humphries, ed.) Edward Elgar Press, 1995; in The Economics of the Family (Nancy Folbre, ed.) Edward Elgar Press, 1996.
  • Solomon Polachek, "Occupational Self Selection: A Human Capital Approach to Sex Differences in Occupational Structure," Review of Economics and Statistics, 63(1) 60-69, February 1981). Reprinted in M. Ferber (ed.) Women in the Labor Market, (Edward Elgar Press) 1998: 321-330.
  • Solomon Polachek and John Robst “Employee Labor Market Information: Comparing Direct World of Work Measures of Workers’ Knowledge to Stochastic Frontier Estimates,” Labour Economics, 1998, 5(2): 231-242.
  • Solomon W. Polachek, Tirthatanmoy Das, and Rewat Thamma-Apiroam, “Micro and Macroeconomic Implications of Heterogeneity in the Production of Human Capital,” Journal of Political Economy, forthcoming.
What I learned from NLS data

Skills (as measured by potential wages) depreciate between ½ - 4% per year one drops out of the labor force mid-career. The percent is on the upper end for managerial occupations and for respondents with more years of school. Those who expect discontinuous lifetime labor force participation are more likely to be in occupations with low atrophy (skill depreciation) rates.

Economics-based measures of worker incomplete information are consistent with Knowledge of the World of Work Measures.

Ability measured by test scores (e.g., AFQT, SAT, ACT, Otis) correlate well with ability gleaned from life-cycle models, but test scores do not get at non-cognitive aspects of ability embedded into ability measures obtained from life cycle models.
Years of schooling are positively correlated with one’s ability to learn, but negatively related to one’s human capital depreciation rate and with one’s rate of time preference (discount rate).

Why I chose NLS data

Originally, I used the 1967 NLS of Mature Women because it was the first and only data set to have retrospective work history information. More recently, I used the NLSY because it linked responses of the Knowledge of the World of Work and ability test scores to each individual’s labor market data.