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Double Trouble: On the Value of Twins-Based Estimation of the Return to Schooling

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  • John Bound
  • Gary Solon

Abstract

Several recent studies use the schooling and wage variation between monozygotic twins to estimate the return to schooling. In this paper, we summarize the results from this literature, and we examine the implications of endogenous determination of which twin goes to school longer and of measuring schooling with (possibly mean-reverting) error. Endogeneity of between-twins schooling variation is strongly suggested by the extensive (mostly non-economic) literature documenting that the between-twins difference in birth weight is correlated with the between-twins differences in both schooling and IQ. We conclude that twins-based estimation is vulnerable to the same sort of inconsistency that afflicts conventional cross-sectional estimation. We argue, however, that, if one starts with the presumption that endogenous schooling induces upward inconsistency in the estimated return to schooling, the new twins-based estimates may complement other approaches to tightening the upper bound on the return to schooling.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6721.

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Date of creation: Sep 1998
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Publication status: published as Economics of Education Review, Vol. 18, no. 2 (April 1999): 169-182
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6721

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  1. Neumark, David, 1999. "Biases in twin estimates of the return to schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 143-148, April.
  2. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," Working Papers 653, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  4. Pischke, J.S., 1994. "Measurement Error and Earnings Dynamics: Some Estimates from the PSID Validation Study," Working papers 94-01, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Ashenfelter, Orley & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Estimates of the Economic Returns to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1157-73, December.
  6. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," NBER Working Papers 4832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Orley Ashenfelter & Cecilia Rouse, 1997. "Income, Schooling, and Ability: Evidence from a New Sample of Identical Twins," NBER Working Papers 6106, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
  9. Willis, Robert J., 1987. "Wage determinants: A survey and reinterpretation of human capital earnings functions," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 525-602 Elsevier.
  10. Griliches, Zvi, 1979. "Sibling Models and Data in Economics: Beginnings of a Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S37-64, October.
  11. John Bound & David A. Jaeger, 1996. "On the Validity of Season of Birth as an Instrument in Wage Equations: A Comment on Angrist & Krueger's "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Scho," NBER Working Papers 5835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1999. "Further estimates of the economic return to schooling from a new sample of twins," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 149-157, April.
  13. Gary S. Becker, 1975. "Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education, 2nd ed," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck75-1.
  14. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1994. "Endowments and the Allocation of Schooling in the Family and in the Marriage Market: The Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1131-74, December.
  15. Behrman, Jere R. & Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1999. ""Ability" biases in schooling returns and twins: a test and new estimates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 159-167, April.
  16. Miller, Paul W & Mulvey, Charles & Martin, Nick, 1995. "What Do Twins Studies Reveal about the Economic Returns to Education? A Comparison of Australian and U.S. Findings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 586-99, June.
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