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Student Abilities During the Expansion of US Education

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  • Lutz Hendricks
  • Todd Schoellman

Abstract

The US experienced two dramatic changes in the structure of education in a fifty year period. The first was a large expansion of educational attainment; the second, an increase in test score gaps between college bound and non-college bound students. We study the impact of these two trends on the composition of school groups by observed ability and the importance of these composition effects for wages. Our main finding is that there is a growing gap between the abilities of high school and college-educated workers that accounts for one-half of the college wage premium for recent cohorts and for the entire rise of the college wage premium for the 1910-1960 birth cohorts.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2013/wp-cesifo-2013-12/cesifo1_wp4537.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4537.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4537

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Related research

Keywords: education; ability; skill premium;

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References

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  1. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  2. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, . "Employer Learning and Statistical Discrimination," IPR working papers 97-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  3. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  4. Taber, Christopher R, 2001. "The Rising College Premium in the Eighties: Return to College or Return to Unobserved Ability?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 665-91, July.
  5. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bowlus, Audra J. & Robinson, Chris, 2011. "Human Capital Prices, Productivity and Growth," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2011-32, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 22 Dec 2011.
  7. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2004. "Separating Uncertainty from Heterogeneity in Life Cycle Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 1437, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2009. "The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
  9. Bishop, John Hillman, 1989. "Is the Test Score Decline Responsible for the Productivity Growth Decline?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 178-97, March.
  10. John Laitner, 2000. "Earnings within Education Groups and Overall Productivity Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(4), pages 807-832, August.
  11. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
  12. Manski, Charles F., 1989. "Schooling as experimentation: a reappraisal of the postsecondary dropout phenomenon," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 305-312, August.
  13. Carneiro, Pedro & Lee, Sokbae, 2009. "Estimating distributions of potential outcomes using local instrumental variables with an application to changes in college enrollment and wage inequality," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 149(2), pages 191-208, April.
  14. John Cawley & Karen Conneely & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1996. "Cognitive Ability, Wages, and Meritocracy," NBER Working Papers 5645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Chinhui Juhn & Dae Il Kim & Francis Vella, 2005. "The Expansion of College Education in the United States: Is There Evidence of Declining Cohort Quality?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(2), pages 303-315, April.
  17. Stephen V. Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2004. "Estimation of Educational Borrowing Constraints Using Returns to Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 132-182, February.
  18. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
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  20. Bound, John & Johnson, George, 1992. "Changes in the Structure of Wages in the 1980's: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 371-92, June.
  21. Baris Kaymak, 2009. "Ability Bias and the Rising Education Premium in the United States: A Cohort-Based Analysis," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 224-267.
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Cited by:
  1. Michelle Rendall & Andrew Rendall, 2013. "Math Matters: Student Ability, College Majors, and Wage Inequality," 2013 Meeting Papers 1196, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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