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The Returns to College Education

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Author Info

  • Philip R. P. Coelho

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Ball State University)

  • Tung Liu

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Ball State University)

Abstract

We apply grouped college-level data to estimate the returns to a college education. After comparing different econometric methods for estimating cluster samples with grouped data, we argue that there are two sets of population parameters of concern: one for estimating withingroup effects, and the other for between-group effects. This leads to three major points: 1) the traditional use of fixed-effects models usually ignores the importance of between-group effects and may lead to erroneous conclusions; 2) regressions with group variables have several identifiable econometric issues; and 3) estimations of between-group estimators for betweengroup effects with grouped data are valid. We investigate the returns to higher education using explanatory variables representing characteristics for individuals, colleges and universities, and states with grouped data from over 500 colleges and universities. We generate a major index measuring college characteristics that are related to students’ disciplines in their degree majors. We find that college majors are important determinants of post-graduation incomes; in contrast the incremental value of private schooling over publically funded colleges is relatively modest. At zero rates of interest it takes approximately 59 years for the excess earnings in starting salaries attributable to a private education to equal the extra costs of four years of private schooling.

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File URL: http://econfac.iweb.bsu.edu/research/workingpapers/bsuecwp201202coelho.pdf
File Function: First version, 2012
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Ball State University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 201202.

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Length: 61 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision: Aug 2012
Handle: RePEc:bsu:wpaper:201202

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Keywords: college education; between-group effects; cluster samples;

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  1. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  2. Mundlak, Yair, 1978. "On the Pooling of Time Series and Cross Section Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 69-85, January.
  3. Stacy Berg Dale & Alan Krueger, 1998. "Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables," Working Papers 788, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Stephen G. Donald & Kevin Lang, 2007. "Inference with Difference-in-Differences and Other Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 221-233, May.
  5. Maddala, G S, 1971. "The Use of Variance Components Models in Pooling Cross Section and Time Series Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(2), pages 341-58, March.
  6. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2009. "The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
  7. Dan A. Black & Seth Sanders & Lowell Taylor, 2003. "The Economic Reward for Studying Economics," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(3), pages 365-377, July.
  8. Dan Black & Jeffrey Smith & Kermit Daniel, 2005. "College Quality and Wages in the United States," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 6(3), pages 415-443, 08.
  9. Moulton, Brent R, 1987. "Diagnostics for Group Effects in Regression Analysis," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 5(2), pages 275-82, April.
  10. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2006. "Estimating the Returns to College Quality with Multiple Proxies for Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 701-728, July.
  11. Kloek, T, 1981. "OLS Estimation in a Model Where a Microvariable Is Explained by Aggregates and Contemporaneous Disturbances Are Equicorrelated," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(1), pages 205-07, January.
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