Volume 8, Issue 1 (2019)
Is Human Capital the Sixth Factor? Evidence from US Data
RAHUL ROY1, SANTHAKUMAR SHIJIN2
1,2 Pondicherry University, India
Problem/Relevance: Measuring the risk of an asset and the economic forces driving the price of the risk is a challenging task that preoccupied the asset pricing literature for decades. However, there exists no consensus on the integrated asset pricing framework among the financial economists in the contemporaneous asset pricing literature. Thus, we consider and study this research problem that has greater relevance in pricing the risks of an asset. In this backdrop, we develop an integrated equilibrium asset pricing model in an intertemporal (ICAPM) framework.
Research Objective/Questions: Broadly we have two research objectives. First, we examine the joint dynamics of the human capital component and common factors in approximating the variation in asset return predictability. Second, we test whether the human capital component is the unaccounted and the sixth pricing factor of FF five-factor asset pricing model. Additionally, we assess the economic and statistical significance of the equilibrium six-factor asset pricing model.
Methodology: The human capital component, market portfolio, size, value, profitability, and investment are the pricing factors of the equilibrium six-factor asset pricing model. We use Fama-French (FF) portfolios of 2 3, 5 5, 10 10 sorts, 2 4 4 sorts, and the Industry portfolios to examine the equilibrium six-factor asset pricing model. The Generalized method of moments (GMM) estimation is used to estimate the parameters of variant asset pricing models and Gibbons-Ross-Shanken test is employed to evaluate the performance of the variant asset pricing frameworks.
Major Findings: Our approaches led to three conclusions. First, the GMM estimation result infers that the human capital component of the six-factor asset pricing model significantly priced the variation in excess return on FF portfolios of variant sorts and the Industry portfolios. Further, the sensitivity to human capital component priced separately in the presence of the market portfolios and the common factors. Second, the six-factor asset pricing model outperforms the CAPM, FF three-factor model, and FF five-factor model, which indicates that the human capital component is a significant pricing factor in asset return predictability. Third, we argue that the human capital component is the unaccounted asset pricing factor and equally the sixth-factor of the FF five-factor asset pricing model. The additional robustness test result confirms that the parameter estimation of the six-factor asset pricing model is robust to the alternative definitions of the human capital component.
Implications: The empirical results and findings equally pose the more significant effects for the decision-making process of the rational investor, institutional managers, portfolio managers, and fund managers in formulating the better investment strategies, which can help in diversifying the aggregate risks.
Keywords: Asset pricing; FF five-factor model; human capital; return predictability; six-factor asset pricing model; sixth factor.