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Do Returns to Schooling Differ by Race and Ethnicity?

  • Lisa Barrow
  • Cecilia Elena Rouse

Using data from the U.S. Decennial Census and the National Longitudinal Surveys, we find little evidence of differences in the return to schooling across racial and ethnic groups, even with attempts to control for ability and measurement error biases. While our point estimates are relatively similar across racial and ethnic groups, our conclusion is driven in part by relatively large standard errors. ; That said, we find no evidence that returns to schooling are lower for African Americans or Hispanics than for non-minorities. As a result, policies that increase education among the low-skilled have a good possibility of increasing economic well-being and reducing inequality. More generally, our analysis suggests further research is needed to better understand the nature of measurement error and ability bias across subgroups in order to fully understand potential heterogeneity in the return to schooling across the population.

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

Volume (Year): 95 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 83-87

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:2:p:83-87
Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282805774670130
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  1. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  2. 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.
  3. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  4. Lisa Barrow & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2005. "Do Returns to Schooling Differ by Race and Ethnicity?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 83-87, May.
  5. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," NBER Working Papers 4832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-60, September.
  7. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jin Huem Park, 1994. "Estimation of Sheepskin Effects and Returns to Schooling Using he Old and the New CPS Measures of Educational Attainment," Working Papers 717, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  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. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Elena Rouse & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Estimating Returns to Schooling When Schooling is Misreported," NBER Working Papers 7235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Chamberlain, Gary & Griliches, Zvi, 1975. "Unobservables with a Variance-Components Structure: Ability, Schooling, and the Economic Success of Brothers," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 16(2), pages 422-49, June.
  12. William Rodgers & William Spriggs, 1996. "What does the AFQT really measure: Race, wages, schooling and the AFQT score," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 13-46, June.
  13. Ashenfelter, Orley & Ham, John, 1979. "Education, Unemployment, and Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S99-116, October.
  14. Altonji, Joseph G & Dunn, Thomas A, 1996. "The Effects of Family Characteristics on the Return to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 692-704, November.
  15. Taber, Christopher R, 2001. "The Rising College Premium in the Eighties: Return to College or Return to Unobserved Ability?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 665-91, July.
  16. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Rouse & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Estimating Returns to Schooling When Schooling is Misreported," Working Papers 798, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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