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The Effects of High School Curriculum on Education and Labor Market Outcomes


  • Joseph G. Altonji


There is much public discussion but almost no evidence on the effects of high school curriculum on postsecondary education and on success in the labor market. I use the large variation in curriculum across U.S. high schools to identify the effects on wages and educational attainment of specific courses of study. The main finding is that the return to additional courses in academic subjects is small. One cannot account for the value of a year of high school with estimates of the value of the courses taken by the typical student during the year.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph G. Altonji, 1995. "The Effects of High School Curriculum on Education and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(3), pages 409-438.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:30:y:1995:i:3:p:409-438

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kevin M. Murphy & Finis Welch, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326.
    2. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Working Papers 645, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. R. Meyer, "undated". "Applied versus traditional mathematics: New econometric models of the contribution of high school courses to mathematics proficiency," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 966-92, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    4. 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.
    5. Brown, James N, 1989. "Why Do Wages Increase with Tenure? On-the-Job Training and Life-Cycle Wage Growth Observed within Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 971-991, December.
    6. Joseph G. Altonji & James R. Spletzer, 1991. "Worker Characteristics, Job Characteristics, and the Receipt of On-the-Job Training," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(1), pages 58-79, October.
    7. Altonji, Joseph G, 1993. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes Are Uncertain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 48-83, January.
    8. repec:fth:prinin:265 is not listed on IDEAS
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