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Who Benefits from Obtaining a GED? Evidence from High School and Beyond

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  • Richard J. Murnane
  • John B. Willett
  • John H. Tyler

Abstract

This paper examines the value of the GED credential and the conventional high school diploma in explaining the earnings of 27-year-old males in the early 1990s. The data base is the High School and Beyond sophomore cohort. We replicate the basic findings of prior studies that implicitly assume the labor market value of the GED credential does not depend on the skills with which dropouts left school. We show that these average effects mask a more complicated pattern. Obtaining a GED is associated with higher earnings at age 27 for those male dropouts who had very weak cognitive skills as tenth graders, but not for those who had stronger cognitive skills as tenth graders. © 2000 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Suggested Citation

  • Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & John H. Tyler, 2000. "Who Benefits from Obtaining a GED? Evidence from High School and Beyond," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 23-37, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:82:y:2000:i:1:p:23-37
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert H. Meyer & David A. Wise, 1982. "High School Preparation and Early Labor Force Experience," NBER Chapters,in: The Youth Labor Market Problem: Its Nature, Causes, and Consequences, pages 277-348 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. McKinley L. Blackburn & David E. Bloom & Richard B. Freeman, 1989. "The Declining Economic Position of Less-Skilled American Males," NBER Working Papers 3186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Kathryn Parker Boudett, 1997. "Does Acquisition of a GED Lead to More Training, Post-Secondary Education, and Military Service for School Dropouts?," NBER Working Papers 5992, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Stephen Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1994. "Determinants of Young Males' Schooling and Training Choices," NBER Chapters,in: Training and the Private Sector: International Comparisons, pages 201-232 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-442, June.
    6. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Kathryn Parker Boudett, 1997. "Does a Ged Lead to More Training, Post-Secondary Education, and Military Service for School Dropouts?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(1), pages 100-116, October.
    7. Cameron, Stephen V & Heckman, James J, 1993. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 1-47, January.
    8. David T. Ellwood, 1982. "Teenage Unemployment: Permanent Scars or Temporary Blemishes?," NBER Chapters,in: The Youth Labor Market Problem: Its Nature, Causes, and Consequences, pages 349-390 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. John H. Tyler & Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett, 1998. "Estimating the Impact of the GED on the Earnings of Young Dropouts Using a Series of Natural Experiments," NBER Working Papers 6391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. 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 869-895, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. John H. Tyler & Jeffrey R. Kling, 2004. "Prison-Based Education and Re-Entry into the Mainstream Labor Market," Working Papers 12, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Christopher Jepsen & Peter Mueser & Kenneth Troske, 2016. "Labor Market Returns to the GED Using Regression Discontinuity Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(3), pages 621-649.
    3. Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Mader, Nicholas S., 2011. "The GED," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
      • James J. Heckman & John Eric Humphries & Nicholas S. Mader, 2010. "The GED," NBER Working Papers 16064, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Mader, Nicholas S., 2010. "The GED," IZA Discussion Papers 4975, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Fairlie, Robert W., 2005. "The effects of home computers on school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 533-547, October.
    5. repec:lan:wpaper:1023 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Tyler, John & Lofstrom, Magnus, 2010. "Is the GED an effective route to postsecondary education for school dropouts?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 813-825, October.
    7. Lofstrom, Magnus & Tyler, John, 2004. "Measuring the Returns to the GED: Using an Exogenous Change in GED Passing Standards as a Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 1306, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Katharine L. Bradbury, 2002. "Education and wages in the 1980s and 1990s: are all groups moving up together?," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Q 1, pages 19-46.
    9. Stenberg, Anders, 2011. "Using longitudinal data to evaluate publicly provided formal education for low skilled," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1262-1280.
    10. Lofstrom, Magnus & Tyler, John, 2007. "Modeling the Signaling Value of the GED with an Application to an Exogenous Passing Standard Increase in Texas," IZA Discussion Papers 2953, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Melissa Clark & David Jaeger, 2006. "Natives, the foreign-born and high school equivalents: new evidence on the returns to the GED," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 19(4), pages 769-793, October.
    12. Tyler, John H. & Murnane, Richard J. & Willett, John B., 2004. "The devil's in the details: evidence from the GED on large effects of small differences in high stakes exams," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 339-349, August.
    13. Richard J. Murnane, 2013. "U.S. High School Graduation Rates: Patterns and Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 370-422, June.
    14. J Taylor & A N Nguyen, 2003. "Transition from school to first job: the influence of educational attainment," Working Papers 540112, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    15. Tyler, John H. & Murnane, Richard J. & Willett, John B., 2003. "Who benefits from a GED? Evidence for females from High School and Beyond," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 237-247, June.
    16. repec:pri:indrel:dsp01zk51vg782 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
    18. Lillard, Dean R. & DeCicca, Philip P., 2001. "Higher standards, more dropouts? Evidence within and across time," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(5), pages 459-473, October.
    19. Melissa A. Clark & David Jaeger, 2002. "Natives, the Foreign-Born and High School Equivalents: New Evidence on the Returns to the GED," Working Papers 841, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    20. Rumberger, Russell W. & Lamb, Stephen P., 2003. "The early employment and further education experiences of high school dropouts: a comparative study of the United States and Australia," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 353-366, August.
    21. Krista Perreira & Kathleen Harris & Dohoon Lee, 2006. "Making it in America: High school completion by immigrant and native youth," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(3), pages 511-536, August.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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