Tracking the Returns to Education in the 1990s: Bridging the Gap between the New and Old Current Population Survey Education Items
The Current Population Survey (CPS) is used for many studies examining trends in the returns to education. The CPS changed its education item in 1992. This paper develops adjustment factors for earnings at different education levels to make pre- and post- 1992 earnings comparable. To accomplish this, contradictory results from alternative data sources are analyzed and, to the extent possible, reconciled. The adjustments reduce the estimated growth in the College/High School earnings ratio between 1989 and 1993 by between 29 and 48 percent for men and between 44 and 73 percent for women.