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Educational Reform, Ability, and Family Background

  • Costas Meghir
  • Mårten Palme

In this paper we evaluate the impact of a major school reform, that took place in the 1950s in Sweden, on educational attainment and earnings. The reform, which has many common elements with reforms in other European countries including the UK, consisted of increasing compulsor schooling, imposing a national curriculum and abolishing selectionby ability into Academic and non-academic streams at the age of 12 (comprehensive school reform). Our data combines survey data with administrative sources. We find that the reform increased both the educational attainment and the earnings of children whose fathers had just complusory education. However the earnings of those with educated parents declined - possibly because of a dilution of quality at the top end of the education levels. The overall effect of the reform was however positive.

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

Volume (Year): 95 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 414-424

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:1:p:414-424
Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828053828671
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  1. Robert A. Margo & T. Aldrich Finegan, 1996. "Compulsory Schooling Legislation and School Attendance in Turn-of-the-Century America: A "Natural Experiment" Approach," NBER Historical Working Papers 0089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014, November.
  3. Heckman, James J., 2000. "Policies to foster human capital," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 3-56, March.
  4. Harmon, C & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of the economic return to schooling for the UK," IFS Working Papers W95/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  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. Ashenfelter, Orley C, 1978. "Estimating the Effect of Training Programs on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(1), pages 47-57, February.
  7. Lorraine Dearden & Javier Ferri & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The effect of school quality on educational attainment and wages," IFS Working Papers W00/22, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  8. 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.
  9. Alan B. Krueger, 2002. "Inequality, Too Much of a Good Thing," Working Papers 115, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  10. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-60, September.
  11. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  12. Lang, Kevin & Kropp, David, 1986. "Human Capital versus Sorting: The Effects of Compulsory Attendance Laws," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(3), pages 609-24, August.
  13. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
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