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Just the Facts, Ma'am: Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes in the U.S

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Author Info

  • Holzer, Harry J.

    ()
    (Georgetown University)

  • Dunlop, Erin

    ()
    (American Institutes for Research)

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    Abstract

    In this paper, we provide a comprehensive and up-to-date snapshot of the most important postsecondary education and labor market outcomes in the U.S. using two nationally representative sources of data: The Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and The National Educational Longitudinal Survey (NELS). We find that postsecondary educational attainment has risen modestly among young Americans over the past two decades, with greater gains in BA attainment in the 1990s and in certificate and AA attainment since 2000 (though attainment rose during the Great Recession at all levels). Both younger and older cohorts of blacks and Hispanics have made relative progress in the attainment of certificates and AAs but still lag behind whites in the entry into and completion of BA programs; completion rates in BA programs also lag substantially for those from low-income families or with weak academic achievement in high school. Young women (especially among whites and blacks) now achieve sub-BA and BA degrees at higher levels than their male counterparts and generally have higher achievement. There are labor market returns for all postsecondary credentials, including certificates and AA degrees, though these vary across field of study. Large gender gaps exist in field of study, with men more concentrated in high-paying fields. Lastly, we find that high school achievement measures can account for much of the racial gaps in BA completion and earnings and some of the gaps by family background, though they account for little of the continuing gender gap favoring young men in earnings.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7319.

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    Length: 45 pages
    Date of creation: Mar 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7319

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    Keywords: postsecondary education; earnings; labor market;

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    References

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    1. Dave E. Marcotte, 2010. "The Earnings Effect Of Education At Community Colleges," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(1), pages 36-51, 01.
    2. John Bound & Michael Lovenheim & Sarah Turner, 2009. "Why Have College Completion Rates Declined? An Analysis of Changing Student Preparation and Collegiate Resources," NBER Working Papers 15566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Charles Brown & Mary Corcoran, 1996. "Sex-Based Differences in School Content and the Male/Female Wage Gap," NBER Working Papers 5580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Nir Jaimovich & Henry E. Siu, 2012. "The Trend is the Cycle: Job Polarization and Jobless Recoveries," NBER Working Papers 18334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Christopher Jepsen & Kenneth Troske & Paul Coomes, 2012. "The Labor-Market Returns to Community College Degrees, Diplomas, and Certificates," Working Papers 201223, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
    6. Christopher Cornwell & David B. Mustard & Jessica Van Parys, 2013. "Noncognitive Skills and the Gender Disparities in Test Scores and Teacher Assessments: Evidence from Primary School," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(1), pages 236-264.
    7. Joseph G. Altonji & Erica Blom & Costas Meghir, 2012. "Heterogeneity in Human Capital Investments: High School Curriculum, College Major, and Careers," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 185-223, 07.
    8. Derek Neal, 2005. "Why Has Black-White Skill Convergence Stopped?," NBER Working Papers 11090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Daron Acemoglu & David Autor, 2012. "What Does Human Capital Do? A Review of Goldin and Katz's The Race between Education and Technology," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(2), pages 426-63, June.
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