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Do the Cognitive Skills of School Dropouts Matter in the Labor Market?

  • John H. Tyler
  • Richard J. Murnane
  • John B. Willett

Does the labor market reward cognitive skill differences among those with the fewest educational attainment-high school dropouts? This paper explores this question using a data set that provides information on the universe of dropouts who last attempted the GED exams in Florida and New York in 1989 and 1990. This sample reduces variation in unmeasured variables such as motivation that are correlated with cognitive skills. We examine the returns to basic cognitive skills as measured by GED test scores. The results indicate substantial earnings returns to cognitive skills for all groups except white male dropouts.

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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 35 (2000)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 748-754

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:35:y:2000:i:4:p:748-754
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. Henry S. Farber & Robert Gibbons, 1991. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 3764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 1996. "Employer Learning and the Signaling Value of Education," NBER Working Papers 5438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Joshua D. Angrist, 1995. "Estimating the Labor Market Impact of Voluntary Military Service Using Social Security Data on Military Applicants," NBER Working Papers 5192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. John H. Tyler & Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett, 1998. "Estimating the Impact of the GED on the Earnings of Young Dropouts Using a Series of Natural Experiments," NBER Working Papers 6391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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