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Egalitarianism and the Returns to Education during the Great Transformation of American Education

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  • Claudia Goldin

Abstract

Secondary school education greatly expanded in the United States from 1910 to 1940, setting its schooling attainment apart from that of all other countries. Barely 10 percent of youth were high school graduates in 1910, but by the mid 1930s the median youth had a high school diploma. In some regions, by the 1930s enrollment and graduation rates rose to levels that were as high as they would be two decades later. The issue addressed here concerns the economic impact of the large increase in the supply of educated labor. Evidence is presented concerning the sharp decline in the wage premium to ordinary white†collar workers. With the expansion of the high school, large numbers of Americans competed for positions in the coveted white†collar sector. Although the return to a year of high school remained considerable on the eve of World War II, egalitarianism had evened the playing field for a substantial segment of Americans.
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  • Claudia Goldin, 1999. "Egalitarianism and the Returns to Education during the Great Transformation of American Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 65-94, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:107:y:1999:i:s6:p:s65-s94
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    1. Claudia Goldin, 1994. "How America Graduated from High School: 1910 to 1960," NBER Working Papers 4762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Claudia Goldin, 1994. "Appendix to: "How America Graduated from High School, 1910 to 1960", Construction of State-Level Secondary School Data," NBER Historical Working Papers 0057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1, January.
    5. Claudia Goldin & Robert A. Margo, 1992. "The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 107(1), pages 1-34.
    6. Lardy,Nicholas R., 1978. "Economic Growth and Distribution in China," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521219044, November.
    7. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling and Earnings," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 41-63, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1995. "The Decline of Non-Competing Groups: Changes in the Premium to Education, 1890 to 1940," NBER Working Papers 5202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 1995. "On the Political Economy of Education Subsidies," The Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economic Studies Ltd, vol. 62(2), pages 249-262.
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