scispace - formally typeset

Posted Content

The causal effect of education on earnings

01 Jan 1999-Handbook of Labor Economics (Elsevier)-pp 1801-1863

AbstractThis paper surveys the recent literature on the causal relationship between education and earnings. I focus on four areas of work: theoretical and econometric advances in modelling the causal effect of education in the presence of heterogeneous returns to schooling; recent studies that use institutional aspects of the education system to form instrumental variables estimates of the return to schooling; recent studies of the earnings and schooling of twins; and recent attempts to explicitly model sources of heterogeneity in the returns to education. Consistent with earlier surveys of the literature, I conclude that the average (or average marginal) return to education is not much below the estimate that emerges from a standard human capital earnings function fit by OLS. Evidence from the latest studies of identical twins suggests a small upward "ability" bias -- on the order of 10%. A consistent finding among studies using instrumental variables based on institutional changes in the education system is that the estimated returns to schooling are 20-40% above the corresponding OLS estimates. Part of the explanation for this finding may be that marginal returns to schooling for certain subgroups -- particularly relatively disadvantaged groups with low education outcomes -- are higher than the average marginal returns to education in the population as a whole.

Topics: Earnings (56%), Instrumental variable (56%), Population (52%)

...read more

Citations
More filters

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A meta-analysis of the results shows that early math skills have the greatest predictive power, followed by reading and then attention skills, while measures of socioemotional behaviors were generally insignificant predictors of later academic performance.
Abstract: Using 6 longitudinal data sets, the authors estimate links between three key elements of school readiness--school-entry academic, attention, and socioemotional skills--and later school reading and math achievement In an effort to isolate the effects of these school-entry skills, the authors ensured that most of their regression models control for cognitive, attention, and socioemotional skills measured prior to school entry, as well as a host of family background measures Across all 6 studies, the strongest predictors of later achievement are school-entry math, reading, and attention skills A meta-analysis of the results shows that early math skills have the greatest predictive power, followed by reading and then attention skills By contrast, measures of socioemotional behaviors, including internalizing and externalizing problems and social skills, were generally insignificant predictors of later academic performance, even among children with relatively high levels of problem behavior Patterns of association were similar for boys and girls and for children from high and low socioeconomic backgrounds

3,909 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Standard sufficient conditions for identification in the regression discontinuity design are continuity of the conditional expectation of counterfactual outcomes in the running variable. These continuity assumptions may not be plausible if agents are able to manipulate the running variable. This paper develops a test of manipulation related to continuity of the running variable density function. The methodology is applied to popular elections to the House of Representatives, where sorting is neither expected nor found, and to roll call voting in the House, where sorting is both expected and found.

1,849 citations


Posted Content
Abstract: This paper reviews a set of recent studies that have attempted to measure the causal effect of education on labor market earnings by using institutional features of the supply side of the education system as exogenous determinants of schooling outcomes. A simple theoretical model that highlights the role of comparative advantage in the optimal schooling decision is presented and used to motivate an extended discussion of econometric issues, including the properties of ordinary least squares and instrumental variables estimators. A review of studies that have used compulsory schooling laws, differences in the accessibility of schools, and similar features as instrumental variables for completed education reveals that the resulting estimates of the return to schooling are typically as big or bigger than the corresponding ordinary least squares estimates. One interpretation of this finding is that marginal returns to education among the low-education subgroups typically affected by supply-side innovations tend to relatively high, reflecting their high marginal costs of schooling, rather than low ability that limits their return to education.

1,730 citations


ReportDOI
Abstract: This paper presents economic models of child development that capture the essence of recent findings from the empirical literature on skill formation. The goal of this essay is to provide a theoretical framework for interpreting the evidence from a vast empirical literature, for guiding the next generation of empirical studies, and for formulating policy. Central to our analysis is the concept that childhood has more than one stage. We formalize the concepts of self-productivity and complementarity of human capital investments and use them to explain the evidence on skill formation. Together, they explain why skill begets skill through a multiplier process. Skill formation is a life cycle process. It starts in the womb and goes on throughout life. Families play a role in this process that is far more important than the role of schools. There are multiple skills and multiple abilities that are important for adult success. Abilities are both inherited and created, and the traditional debate about nature versus nurture is scientiÞcally obsolete. Human capital investment exhibits both self-productivity and complementarity. Skill attainment at one stage of the life cycle raises skill attainment at later stages of the life cycle (self-productivity). Early investment facilitates the productivity of later investment (complementarity). Early investments are not productive if they are not followed up by later investments (another aspect of complementarity). This complementarity explains why there is no equity-efficiency trade-off for early investment. The returns to investing early in the life cycle are high. Remediation of inadequate early investments is difficult and very costly as a consequence of both self-productivity and complementarity.

1,532 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: This paper reviews a set of recent studies that have attempted to measure the causal effect of education on labor market earnings by using institutional features of the supply side of the education system as exogenous determinants of schooling outcomes. A simple theoretical model that highlights the role of comparative advantage in the optimal schooling decision is presented and used to motivate an extended discussion of econometric issues, including the properties of ordinary least squares and instrumental variables estimators. A review of studies that have used compulsory schooling laws, differences in the accessibility of schools, and similar features as instrumental variables for completed education, reveals that the resulting estimates of the return to schooling are typically as big or bigger than the corresponding ordinary least squares estimates. One interpretation of this finding is that marginal returns to education among the low-education subgroups typically affected by supply-side innovations tend to be relatively high, reflecting their high marginal costs of schooling, rather than low ability that limits their return to education.

1,386 citations