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Zero Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Germany: Evidence and Interpretation

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  • Pischke, Jörn-Steffen

    ()
    (London School of Economics)

  • Wachter, Till von

    ()
    (Columbia University)

Abstract

We estimate the impact of compulsory schooling on earnings using the changes in compulsory schooling laws for secondary schools in West German states during the period from 1948 to 1970. While our research design is very similar to studies for various other countries, we find very different estimates of the returns. Most estimates in the literature indicate returns in the range of 10 to 15 percent. We find no return to compulsory schooling in Germany in terms of higher wages. We investigate whether this is due to labor market institutions or the existence of the apprenticeship training system in Germany, but find no evidence for these explanations. We conjecture that the result might be due to the fact that the basic skills most relevant for the labor market are learned earlier in Germany than in other countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1645.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Review of Economics and Statistics, 2008, 90 (2), 592-598
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1645

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Keywords: school leaving age; returns to schooling; human capital; ability bias;

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  1. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," Working Papers in Economics 08/03, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  2. David Card, 1993. "Using Geographic Variation in College Proximity to Estimate the Return to Schooling," Working Papers 696, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Andrea Ichino & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2004. "The Long-Run Educational Cost of World War II," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(1), pages 57-86, January.
  4. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014, November.
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  7. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2005. "Educational Reform, Ability, and Family Background," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 414-424, March.
  8. Powell, James L., 1984. "Least absolute deviations estimation for the censored regression model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 303-325, July.
  9. Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2003. "The Impact of Length of the School Year on Student Performance and Earnings: Evidence from the German Short School Years," IZA Discussion Papers 874, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  11. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
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  13. Oosterbeek, Hessel & Webbink, Dinand, 2007. "Wage effects of an extra year of basic vocational education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 408-419, August.
  14. Ichino, Andrea & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1998. "Lower and Upper Bounds of Returns to Schooling: An Exercise in IV estimation with Different Instruments," CEPR Discussion Papers 2007, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Sascha BECKER & Frank SIEBERN-THOMAS, 2001. "Returns to Education in Germany: A Variable Treatment Intensity Approach," Economics Working Papers ECO2001/09, European University Institute.
  16. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 2001. "How Large are Human-Capital Externalities? Evidence from Compulsory-Schooling Laws," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2000, Volume 15, pages 9-74 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  18. Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Do Dropouts Drop Out Too Soon? Evidence from Changes in School-Leaving Laws," Working Papers oreo-03-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  19. Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1995. "Differences and Changes in Wage Structures," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free95-1, October.
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