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School Performance and the Youth Labor Market


  • Kevin M. Murphy

    (University of Chicago)

  • Sam Peltzman

    (University of Chicago)


We estimate how 197090 changes in an outcome-based measure of school quality (state average test scores) affected changes in earnings for those leaving high school to enter a state's labor force. We find that a one standard deviation deterioration in a state's relative test score performance is associated with a 3% (or .5 SD) reduction in average wages of young entrants to the labor force. We also find a similar decline in college matriculation. There is weak evidence that the school quality effect on earnings diminishes as labor force entrants acquire experience.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin M. Murphy & Sam Peltzman, 2004. "School Performance and the Youth Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 299-328, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:22:y:2004:i:2:p:299-328

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-40, February.
    2. Peltzman, Sam, 1993. "The Political Economy of the Decline of American Public Education," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(1), pages 331-370, April.
    3. 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.
    4. Sam Peltzman & Kevin Murphy, 2000. "The Effects of School Quality on the Youth Labor Market," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 162, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rodrigo M. S. Moita & Claudio Paiva, 2013. "Political Price Cycles in Regulated Industries: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 94-121, February.
    2. Andréa Zaitune Curi & Naércio Aquino Menezes-Filho, 2005. "A Relação Entre O Desempenho Escolar E Os Salários No Brasil," Anais do XXXIII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 33th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 158, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    3. Avitabile,Ciro & De Hoyos Navarro,Rafael E., 2015. "The Heterogeneous effect of information on student performance : evidence from a randomized control trial in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7422, The World Bank.
    4. Fabiana Machado, 2013. "Decentralization and Accountability: The Curse of Local Underdevelopment," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 4620, Inter-American Development Bank.
    5. Grace Chia & Paul W. Miller, 2008. "Tertiary Performance, Field of Study and Graduate Starting Salaries," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 41(1), pages 15-31, March.
    6. Siahaan, Freddy & Lee, Daniel Y. & Kalist, David E., 2014. "Educational attainment of children of immigrants: Evidence from the national longitudinal survey of youth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 1-8.

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