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Returns to Education: Evidence from U.K. Twins

  • Dorothe Bonjour
  • Lynn F. Cherkas
  • Jonathan E. Haskel
  • Denise D. Hawkes
  • Tim D. Spector

We use a new sample of UK female identical twins to estimate private economic returns to education. We report findings in three areas. First, we use identical twins, to control for family effects and genetic ability bias, and the education reported by the other twin to control for schooling measurement error. Our estimates suggest a return to schooling for UK females of about 7.7%. Second, we investigate within-twin pair ability differences by examining within-twin pair and between-family correlations of education with observable correlates of ability (including birthweight, ability tests and reading scores). Our findings suggest lower ability bias in within-twin pair regressions than pooled regressions. Third, using data on twins smoking we show smoking reflects family background and using it as an instrument exacerbates ability bias.

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

Volume (Year): 93 (2003)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1799-1812

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:93:y:2003:i:5:p:1799-1812
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282803322655554
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  1. Bound, John & Solon, Gary, 1999. "Double trouble: on the value of twins-based estimation of the return to schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 169-182, April.
  2. Orley Ashenfelter & David J. Zimmerman, 1997. "Estimates Of The Returns To Schooling From Sibling Data: Fathers, Sons, And Brothers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(1), pages 1-9, February.
  3. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," NBER Working Papers 3572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Farrell, Phillip & Fuchs, Victor R. & Fuchs, Victor R., 1982. "Schooling and health : The cigarette connection," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 217-230, December.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. David Card, 1993. "Using Geographic Variation in College Proximity to Estimate the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 4483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Orley Ashenfelter & Cecilia Rouse, 1998. "Income, Schooling, And Ability: Evidence From A New Sample Of Identical Twins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 253-284, February.
  10. Lorraine Dearden, 1999. "Qualifications and earnings in Britain: how reliable are conventional OLS estimates of the returns to education?," IFS Working Papers W99/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  11. Neumark, David, 1999. "Biases in twin estimates of the return to schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 143-148, April.
  12. Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 1995. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling for the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1278-86, December.
  13. Lorraine Dearden & Barbara Sianesi, 2001. "Estimating the Returns to Education: Models, Methods and Results," CEE Discussion Papers 0016, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. William N. Evans & Edward Montgomery, 1994. "Education and Health: Where There's Smoke There's an Instrument," NBER Working Papers 4949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1999. "The Art of Labormetrics," NBER Working Papers 6927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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