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The Value of Vocational Education: High School Type and Labor Market Outcomes in Indonesia

  • David Newhouse
  • Daniel Suryadarma

This paper examines the relationship between the type of senior high school attended by Indonesian youth and their subsequent labor market outcomes. This topic is timely in light of a recent policy shift that aims to dramatically expand vocational education. The analysis controls for an unusually rich set of predetermined characteristics, and exploits longitudinal data spanning fourteen years to separately identify cohort and age effects. There are four main findings. First, the estimated wage premium for vocational graduates, relative to general graduates, is greater for women than men. Second, the returns to public vocational school for men have plummeted for the most recent cohort, and male vocational graduates now face a large wage penalty. Third, the generally favorable outcomes of public school graduates can be partly explained by non-random sorting of students with higher test scores and better-educated parents into public schools. Finally, these peer effects appear to be particularly important for students with above-average test scores, as men with high scores earn a surprisingly small premium from graduating from vocational or private general school. These small returns for high-scoring men, as well as the dramatic fall in the earnings premium for all male vocational graduates, raise important concerns about the current expansion of public vocational education and the relevance of the male vocational curriculum in an increasingly service-oriented economy. Copyright , Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal The World Bank Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 296-322

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:25:y:2011:i:2:p:296-322
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  1. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," NBER Working Papers 7860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Kahyarara, Godius & Teal, Francis, 2008. "The Returns to Vocational Training and Academic Education: Evidence from Tanzania," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 2223-2242, November.
  3. David Newhouse & Kathleen Beegle, 2006. "The Effect of School Type on Academic Achievement: Evidence from Indonesia," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(3).
  4. Guido W. Imbens & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(1), pages 5-86, March.
  5. Paul Bennell, 1996. "General versus vocational secondary education in developing countries: A review of the rates of return evidence," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(2), pages 230-247.
  6. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2008. "General Education vs. Vocational Training: Evidence from an Economy in Transition," Working Papers 0807, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  7. Lechner, Michael, 1999. "An Evaluation of Public-Sector-Sponsored Continuous Vocational Training Programs in East Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 93, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Tobias, J.L., 2000. "Are Return to Schooling Concentrated Among the Most Able? A Semiparametric Analysis of the Ability-Earnings Relationship," Papers 00-01-12, California Irvine - School of Social Sciences.
  9. James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2001. "Identifying The Role Of Cognitive Ability In Explaining The Level Of And Change In The Return To Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 1-12, February.
  10. Francis Teal & Godius Kahyarara, 2008. "The returns to vocational training and academic education: Evidence from Tanzania," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2008-07, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  11. Shoshana Neuman & Adrian Ziderman, 1991. "Vocational Schooling, Occupational Matching, and Labor Market Earnings in Israel," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(2), pages 256-281.
  12. Moenjak, Thammarak & Worswick, Christopher, 2003. "Vocational education in Thailand: a study of choice and returns," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 99-107, February.
  13. Neuman, Shoshana & Ziderman, Adrian, 1991. "Vocational schooling, occupational matching, and labor market earnings in Israel," Policy Research Working Paper Series 683, The World Bank.
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