Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data
Economists have speculated for at least a century that the social return to education may exceed the private return. In this paper, I estimate spillovers from college education by comparing wages for otherwise similar individuals who work in cities with different shares of college graduates in the labor force. OLS estimates show a large positive relationship between the share of college graduates in a city and individual wages, over and above the private return to education. A key issue in this comparison is the presence of unobservable individual characteristics, such as ability, that may raise wages and be correlated with college share. I use a confidential version of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) to estimate a model of non-random selection of workers among cities. By observing the same individual over time, I can control for differences in unobserved ability across individuals and differences in the return to skills across cities. I then investigate the hypothesis that the correlation between college share and wages is due to unobservable city-specific shocks that may raise wages and attract more highly educated workers to different cities. To control for this source of potential bias, I turn to Census data and use two instrumental variables: the lagged city demographic structure and the presence of a land--grant college. The results from Census data are remarkably consistent with those based on the NLSY sample. A percentage point increase in the supply of college graduates raises high school drop-outs' wages by 1.9%, high school graduates' wages by 1.6%, and college graduates wages by 0.4%. The effect is larger for less educated groups, as predicted by a conventional demand and supply model. But even for college graduates, an increase in the supply of college graduates increases wages, as predicted by a model that includes conventional demand and supply factors as well as spillovers.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Glaeser, E.L. & Scheinkman, J.A., 1993.
"Economic Growth in a Cross-Section of Cities,"
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
1645, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Borjas, George J. & Bronars, Stephen G. & Trejo, Stephen J., 1992.
"Self-selection and internal migration in the United States,"
Journal of Urban Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 159-185, September.
- George J. Borjas & Stephen G. Bronars & Stephen J. Trejo, 1992. "Self-Selection and Internal Migration in the United States," NBER Working Papers 4002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Roback, Jennifer, 1988. "Wages, Rents, and Amenities: Differences among Workers and Regions," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 26(1), pages 23-41, January.
- Bound, John & Holzer, Harry J, 2000.
"Demand Shifts, Population Adjustments, and Labor Market Outcomes during the 1980s,"
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(1), pages 20-54, January.
- John Bound & Harry J. Holzer, 1996. "Demand Shifts, Population Adjustments, and Labor Market Outcomes during the 1980s," NBER Working Papers 5685, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Thomas MaCurdy & Thomas Mroz & R. Mark Gritz, 1998. "An Evaluation of the National Longitudinal Survey on Youth," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(2), pages 345-436.
- Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
- Boyan Jovanovic & Rafael Rob, 1989. "The Growth and Diffusion of Knowledge," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 569-582.
- Daron Acemoglu, 1998.
"Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1055-1089.
- Acemoglu, D., 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," Working papers 97-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 1707, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Heckman, James J & Sedlacek, Guilherme, 1985. "Heterogeneity, Aggregation, and Market Wage Functions: An Empirical Model of Self-selection in the Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1077-1125, December.
- Jaeger, David A, 1997. "Reconciling the Old and New Census Bureau Education Questions: Recommendations for Researchers," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(3), pages 300-309, July.
- Heckman, James & Layne-Farrar, Anne & Todd, Petra, 1996. "Human Capital Pricing Equations with an Application to Estimating the Effect of Schooling Quality on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 562-610, November.
- Bruce Sacerdote, 2000.
"Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates,"
NBER Working Papers
7469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704.
- Edward L. Glaeser, 1997.
"Learning in Cities,"
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
1814, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Rauch James E., 1993.
"Productivity Gains from Geographic Concentration of Human Capital: Evidence from the Cities,"
Journal of Urban Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 380-400, November.
- James E. Rauch, 1991. "Productivity Gains From Geographic Concentration of human Capital: Evidence From the Cities," NBER Working Papers 3905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Daron Acemoglu, 1996. "A Microfoundation for Social Increasing Returns in Human Capital Accumulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 779-804.
- Joseph G. Altonji & David Card, 1991. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcomes of Less-skilled Natives," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 201-234 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bartel, Ann P, 1989. "Where Do the New U.S. Immigrants Live?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 371-91, October.
- repec:hoo:wpaper:e-95-4 is not listed on IDEAS
- James Heckman, 2011.
"Policies to foster human capital,"
Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 73-137.
- James J. Heckman, 1999. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 7288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- James J. Heckman, 2000. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," JCPR Working Papers 154, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
- James Heckman, 2000. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," Working Papers 0028, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
- George J. Borjas, 1994.
"Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human Capital Externalities,"
NBER Working Papers
4912, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Borjas, George J, 1995. "Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human-Capital Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 365-90, June.
- Heckman, James J & Honore, Bo E, 1990. "The Empirical Content of the Roy Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1121-49, September.
- Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Blomquist, Glenn C & Berger, Mark C & Hoehn, John P, 1988. "New Estimates of Quality of Life in Urban Areas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 89-107, March.
- Patricia E. Beeson & Randall W. Eberts, 1987.
"Identifying productivity and amenity effects in interurban wage differentials,"
8707, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- Beeson, Patricia E & Eberts, Randall W, 1989. "Identifying Productivity and Amenity Effects in Interurban Wage Differentials," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(3), pages 443-52, August.
- Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
- Heckman, James J & Sedlacek, Guilherme L, 1990. "Self-selection and the Distribution of Hourly Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages S329-63, January.
- repec:pri:indrel:dsp01s7526c41b is not listed on IDEAS
- Topel, Robert, 1999. "Labor markets and economic growth," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 44, pages 2943-2984 Elsevier.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:121:y:2004:i:1-2:p:175-212. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.