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Estimating Marginal Returns to Education

  • Pedro Carneiro
  • James J. Heckman
  • Edward J. Vytlacil

This paper estimates marginal returns to college for individuals induced to enroll in college by different marginal policy changes. The recent instrumental variables literature seeks to estimate this parameter, but in general it does so only under strong assumptions that are tested and found wanting. We show how to utilize economic theory and local instrumental variables estimators to estimate the effect of marginal policy changes. Our empirical analysis shows that returns are higher for individuals with values of unobservables that make them more likely to attend college. We contrast our estimates with IV estimates of the return to schooling. (JEL I23, J24, J31)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 6 (October)
Pages: 2754-81

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:6:p:2754-81
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  1. Aakvik, Arild & Heckman, James J. & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2005. "Estimating treatment effects for discrete outcomes when responses to treatment vary: an application to Norwegian vocational rehabilitation programs," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 15-51.
  2. Edward Vytlacil, 2002. "Independence, Monotonicity, and Latent Index Models: An Equivalence Result," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 331-341, January.
  3. 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.
  4. Pedro Carneiro & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2009. "Evaluating marginal policy changes and the average effect of treatment for individuals at the margin," CeMMAP working papers CWP21/09, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  5. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother's Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532.
  6. Hansen, Karsten T & Heckman, James J & Mullen, Kathleen J, 2003. "The effect of schooling and ability on achievement test scores," Working Paper Series 2003:13, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  7. Kane, Thomas J & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1995. "Labor-Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 600-614, June.
  8. Heckman, James J. & Urzua, Sergio & Vytlacil, Edward, 2006. "Understanding Instrumental Variables in Models with Essential Heterogeneity," IZA Discussion Papers 2320, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Heckman, James J. & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2000. "The relationship between treatment parameters within a latent variable framework," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 33-39, January.
  10. Heckman, James J. & Schmierer, Daniel & Urzua, Sergio, 2010. "Testing the correlated random coefficient model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 158(2), pages 177-203, October.
  11. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post-Secondary Schooling," NBER Working Papers 9055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Heckman, James J. & Urzua, Sergio & Vytlacil, Edward, 2008. "Instrumental Variables in Models with Multiple Outcomes: The General Unordered Case," IZA Discussion Papers 3565, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-54, July.
  14. Bjorklund, Anders & Moffitt, Robert, 1987. "The Estimation of Wage Gains and Welfare Gains in Self-selection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 42-49, February.
  15. Stephen V. Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2004. "Estimation of Educational Borrowing Constraints Using Returns to Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 132-182, February.
  16. James J. Heckman, 2010. "Building Bridges Between Structural and Program Evaluation Approaches to Evaluating Policy," NBER Working Papers 16110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Christopher R. Taber, 2001. "The Rising College Premium in the Eighties: Return to College or Return to Unobserved Ability?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(3), pages 665-691.
  18. Kling, Jeffrey R, 2001. "Interpreting Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Returns to Schooling," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(3), pages 358-64, July.
  19. Joseph P. Romano & Michael Wolf, 2005. "Exact and Approximate Stepdown Methods for Multiple Hypothesis Testing," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 100, pages 94-108, March.
  20. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
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