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Education and Income in the Early 20th Century: Evidence from the Prairies

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  • Goldin, Claudia
  • Katz, Lawrence

Abstract

We present the first estimates of the returns to years of schooling before 1940 using a large sample individuals (from the 1915 Iowa State Census). The returns to a year of high school or college were substantial in 1915—about 11 percent for all males and in excess of 12 percent for young males. Education enabled individuals to enter lucrative white-collar jobs, but sizable educational wage differentials also existed within occupational groups. Returns were substantial even for those in farming. We find, using U.S. census data, that returns to education decreased between 1915 and 1940 and again during the 1940s.

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Paper provided by Harvard University Department of Economics in its series Scholarly Articles with number 2624456.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Publication status: Published in The Journal of Economic History
Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:2624456

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  1. Bishop, John Hillman, 1989. "Is the Test Score Decline Responsible for the Productivity Growth Decline?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 178-97, March.
  2. Lee Lillard & James P. Smith & Finis Welch, 2004. "What Do We Really Know About Wages: The Importance of Nonreporting and Census Imputation," Labor and Demography, EconWPA 0404005, EconWPA.
  3. Paul Taubman & Terence Wales, 1972. "Mental Ability and Higher Educational Attainment in the 20th Century," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number taub72-1.
  4. Welch, F, 1970. "Education in Production," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 35-59, Jan.-Feb..
  5. Chinhui Juhn, 1999. "Wage inequality and demand for skill: Evidence from five decades," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(3), pages 424-443, April.
  6. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  7. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "The Origins Of Technology-Skill Complementarity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 693-732, August.
  8. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1995. "The Decline of Non-Competing Groups: Changes in the Premium to Education, 1890 to 1940," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 5202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Goldin, Claudia, 1998. "America's Graduation from High School: The Evolution and Spread of Secondary Schooling in the Twentieth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 345-374, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Daniel Aaronson & Daniel Sullivan, 2002. "Growth in worker quality," Chicago Fed Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Feb.
  2. Bishop, John H. & Mane, Ferran, 2004. "The impacts of career-technical education on high school labor market success," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 381-402, August.
  3. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Parman, John, 2012. "Good schools make good neighbors: Human capital spillovers in early 20th century agriculture," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 316-334.
  5. Ludwig, Jens & Miller, Douglas L., 2006. "Does Head Start Improve Children's Life Chances? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," IZA Discussion Papers, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) 2111, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2008. "Ideas and Growth," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 14133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2003. "The "Virtues" of the Past: Education in the First Hundred Years of the New Republic," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 9958, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Peter Thompson, 2003. "Technological Change and the Age-Earnings Profile: Evidence from the International Merchant Marine, 1861-1912," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(3), pages 578-601, July.
  9. Marco Manacorda, 2006. "Child Labor and the Labor Supply of Other Household Members: Evidence from 1920 America," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1788-1801, December.
  10. Claudia Goldin, 2002. "The Rising (and then Declining) Significance of Gender," NBER Working Papers, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc 8915, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Alex Mourmouras & Peter Rangazad, 2007. "Reconciling Kuznets and Habbakuk in a Unified Growth Theory," Working Papers, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Department of Economics wp200704, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Department of Economics.
  12. Motkuri, Venkatanarayana, 2004. "Child Labour and Schooling in a Histrical Perspective: The Developed Countries Experience," MPRA Paper, University Library of Munich, Germany 48416, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Chad Turner & Robert Tamura & Sean Mulholland & Scott Baier, 2007. "Education and income of the states of the United States: 1840–2000," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 101-158, June.

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