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Earnings over the Life Course: General versus Vocational Education

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  • Bart H. H. Golsteyn
  • Anders Stenberg

Abstract

Two common hypotheses regarding the relative benefits of vocational versus general education are (1) that vocational skills enhance relative short-term earnings and (2) that general skills enhance relative long-term earnings. Empirical evidence for these hypotheses has remained limited. Based on Swedish registry data of individuals in short (2-year) upper secondary school programs, this study provides a first exploration of individuals' earnings across nearly complete careers. The descriptive earnings patterns indicate support for both hypotheses 1 and 2. The support holds when grade point average and family fixed effects are controlled for and also when enrollment in further education and fertility decisions are taken into account.

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  • Bart H. H. Golsteyn & Anders Stenberg, 2017. "Earnings over the Life Course: General versus Vocational Education," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(2), pages 167-212.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jhucap:doi:10.1086/691798
    DOI: 10.1086/691798
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    2. Cattaneo, Maria A. & Wolter, Stefan C., 2022. "“Against all odds” Does awareness of the risk of failure matter for educational choices?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    3. Choi, Su Jung & Jeong, Jin Chul & Kim, Seoung Nam, 2019. "Impact of vocational education and training on adult skills and employment: An applied multilevel analysis," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 129-138.
    4. Celeste K. Carruthers & Christopher Jepsen, 2020. "Vocational Education: An International Perspective," CESifo Working Paper Series 8718, CESifo.
    5. Hartog, Joop & Raposo, Pedro & Reis, Hugo, 2018. "Vocational High School Graduate Wage Gap: The Role of Cognitive Skills and Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 11549, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Dahl, Gordon B. & Rooth, Dan-Olof & Stenberg, Anders, 2020. "Long-Run Returns to Field of Study in Secondary School," IZA Discussion Papers 13508, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Franziska Hampf & Ludger Woessmann, 2017. "Vocational vs. General Education and Employment over the Life Cycle: New Evidence from PIAAC," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 63(3), pages 255-269.
    8. Cnossen, Femke & Piracha, Matloob & Tchuente, Guy, 2021. "Learning the Right Skill: The Returns to Social, Technical and Basic Skills for Middle-Educated Graduates," GLO Discussion Paper Series 979, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    9. Ollikainen, Jani-Petteri, 2021. "Comprehensive school reform and labor market outcomes over the lifecycle: Evidence from Finland," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    10. Gordon Dahl & Dan-Olof Rooth & Anders Stenberg, 2020. "High School Majors, Comparative (Dis)Advantage, and Future Earnings," NBER Working Papers 27524, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Thomsen, Stephan L. & Trunzer, Johannes, 2020. "Did the Bologna Process Challenge the German Apprenticeship System? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 13806, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Hampf, Franziska & Woessmann, Ludger, 2017. "Vocational vs. General Education and Employment over the Life-Cycle: New Evidence from PIAAC," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 326, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    13. Dieter Verhaest & Stijn Baert, 2018. "The effects of workplace learning in higher education on employment and match quality: is there an early-career trade-off?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 55(3), pages 1229-1270, November.
    14. Cristiano C. Carvalho & Raphael Corbi, Rodrigo De-Losso, 2021. "Estimating the Employment and Educational Effects of Vocational Training: the Role of School Quality," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2021_10, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP), revised 24 Mar 2021.
    15. Elad Demalach & Noam Zussman, 2017. "The Effect of Vocational Education on Short- and Long-Term Outcomes of Students: Evidence from the Arab Education System in Israel," Bank of Israel Working Papers 2017.11, Bank of Israel.
    16. Leighton, Margaret & Speer, Jamin D., 2020. "Labor market returns to college major specificity," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    17. David J Deming & Kadeem Noray, 2020. "Earnings Dynamics, Changing Job Skills, and STEM Careers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 135(4), pages 1965-2005.
    18. Joop Hartog & Pedro Raposo & Hugo Reis, 2022. "Fluctuations in the wage gap between vocational and general secondary education: lessons from Portugal," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 35(2), pages 643-675, April.
    19. Stratton Leslie S. & Datta Gupta Nabanita & Reimer David & Holm Anders, 2018. "Modeling Completion of Vocational Education: The Role of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills by Program Type," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 18(4), pages 1-17, October.
    20. Rebecca Diamond & Petra Persson, 2016. "The Long-term Consequences of Teacher Discretion in Grading of High-stakes Tests," NBER Working Papers 22207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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