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Who Benefits from Obtaining a GED? Evidence from High School and Beyond

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  • Richard J. Murnane
  • John B. Willett
  • John H. Tyler

Abstract

This paper examines the value of the GED credential and the conventional high school diploma in explaining the earnings of 27-year-old males in the early 1990s. The data base is the High School & Beyond sophomore cohort. We replicate the basic findings of prior studies that implicitly assume the labor market value of the GED credential does not depend on the skills with which dropouts left school. We show that these average effects mask a more complicated pattern. Obtaining a GED is associated with higher earnings at age 27 for those male dropouts who had very weak cognitive skills as tenth graders, but not for those who had stronger cognitive skills as tenth graders.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7172.

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Date of creation: Jun 1999
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Publication status: published as Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 82, no. 1 (February 2000): 23-37.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7172

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References

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  1. Stephen Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1994. "Determinants of Young Males’ Schooling and Training Choices," NBER Chapters, in: Training and the Private Sector, pages 201-232 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1991. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," NBER Working Papers 3804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Kathryn Parker Boudett, 1997. "Does Acquisition of a GED Lead to More Training, Post-Secondary Education, and Military Service for School Dropouts?," NBER Working Papers 5992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  5. Robert H. Meyer & David A. Wise, 1979. "High School Preparation and Early Labor Force Experience," NBER Working Papers 0342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. David T. Ellwood, 1982. "Teenage Unemployment: Permanent Scars or Temporary Blemishes?," NBER Chapters, in: The Youth Labor Market Problem: Its Nature, Causes, and Consequences, pages 349-390 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Kathryn Parker Boudett, 1997. "Does a G.E.D. lead to more training, post-secondary education, and military service for school dropouts?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(1), pages 100-116, October.
  8. Derek A. Neal & William R. Johnson, 1995. "The Role of Pre-Market Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," NBER Working Papers 5124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. repec:fth:coluec:452 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. John H. Tyler & Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett, 1998. "Estimating the Impact of the GED on the Earnings of Young Dropouts Using a Series of Natural Experiments," NBER Working Papers 6391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Lofstrom, Magnus & Tyler, John, 2004. "Measuring the Returns to the GED: Using an Exogenous Change in GED Passing Standards as a Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 1306, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Fairlie, Robert W., 2005. "The effects of home computers on school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 533-547, October.
  3. J Taylor & A N Nguyen, 2003. "Transition from school to first job: the influence of educational attainment," Working Papers 540112, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
  4. Lofstrom, Magnus & Tyler, John, 2007. "Modeling the Signaling Value of the GED with an Application to an Exogenous Passing Standard Increase in Texas," IZA Discussion Papers 2953, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Tyler, John H. & Murnane, Richard J. & Willett, John B., 2004. "The devil's in the details: evidence from the GED on large effects of small differences in high stakes exams," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 339-349, August.
  6. Katharine L. Bradbury, 2002. "Education and wages in the 1980s and 1990s: are all groups moving up together?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Q 1, pages 19 - 46.
  7. John H. Tyler & Jeffrey R. Kling, 2006. "Prison-Based Education and Re-Entry into the Mainstream Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 12114, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Melissa Clark & David Jaeger, 2006. "Natives, the foreign-born and high school equivalents: new evidence on the returns to the GED," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 769-793, October.
  9. Peter R. Mueser & Christopher Jepsen & Kenneth Troske, 2010. "Labor-Market Returns to the GED Using Regression Discontinuity Analysis," Working Papers, Department of Economics, University of Missouri 1014, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
  10. Rumberger, Russell W. & Lamb, Stephen P., 2003. "The early employment and further education experiences of high school dropouts: a comparative study of the United States and Australia," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 353-366, August.
  11. Tyler, John & Lofstrom, Magnus, 2008. "Is the GED an Effective Route to Postsecondary Education for School Dropouts?," IZA Discussion Papers 3297, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Richard J. Murnane, 2013. "U.S. High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 370-422, June.
  13. Lillard, Dean R. & DeCicca, Philip P., 2001. "Higher standards, more dropouts? Evidence within and across time," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 459-473, October.
  14. Richard J. Murnane, 2013. "U.S High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations," NBER Working Papers 18701, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. repec:lan:wpaper:1023 is not listed on IDEAS

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