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Can education compensate for low ability? Evidence from British data

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  • Kevin Denny
  • Vincent O'sullivan

Abstract

This article investigates whether the returns to education vary with the level of cognitive ability. Unlike much of the literature, this article finds that the return to schooling is lower for those with higher cognitive ability indicating that education can act as a substitute for observed ability. Using quantile regressions we also find that, again unlike most of the literature, returns are higher at lower quintiles of the conditional earnings distribution. This suggests that education is also a substitute for unobserved ability. The policy implications are that increasing education in general and particularly for those with lower ability should reduce income inequality.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Applied Economics Letters.

Volume (Year): 14 (2007)
Issue (Month): 9 ()
Pages: 657-660

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Handle: RePEc:taf:apeclt:v:14:y:2007:i:9:p:657-660

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References

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  1. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
  2. John Cawley & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1998. "Understanding the Role of Cognitive Ability in Accounting for the Recent Rise in the Economic Return to Education," NBER Working Papers 6388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Blackburn, McKinley L & Neumark, David, 1993. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 521-44, July.
  4. Tobias, Justin, 2001. "Are Returns to Schooling Concentrated Among the Most Able? A Semiparametric Analysis of the Ability-Earnings Relationships," Staff General Research Papers 12016, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Griliches, Zvi & Mason, William M, 1972. "Education, Income, and Ability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S74-S103, Part II, .
  7. Dearden, Lorraine, 1999. "The effects of families and ability on men's education and earnings in Britain1," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 551-567, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP): Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 1, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  2. Giovagnoli, Paula Ines & Fiszbein, Ariel & Patrinos, Harry Anthony, 2005. "Estimating the returns to education in Argentina : 1992-2002," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3715, The World Bank.
  3. Brunello, Giorgio & Fort, Margherita & Weber, Guglielmo, 2007. "“For One More Year with You”: Changes in Compulsory Schooling, Education and the Distribution of Wages in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 3102, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Harry Anthony Patrinos & Chris Sakellariou, 2006. "Economic volatility and returns to education in Venezuela: 1992-2002," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(17), pages 1991-2005.
  5. Eric Bartelsman & Sabien Dobbelaere & Bettina Peters, 2013. "Allocation of Human Capital and Innovation at the Frontier: Firm-level Evidence on Germany and the Netherlands," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-095/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. Sarah Voitchovsky & Bertrand Maitre & Brian Nolan, 2012. "Wage Inequality in Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” Boom," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 43(1), pages 99–133.

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