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Who Receives the College Wage Premium?: Assessing the Labor Market Returns to Degrees and College Transfer Patterns

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  • Audrey Light
  • Wayne Strayer

Abstract

Using data from the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we estimate wage models in which college-educated workers are classified according to their degree attainment, college type, and college transfer status. The detailed taxonomy produces modest improvements in explanatory power relative to standard specifications, and reveals considerable heterogeneity in the predicted wages of college-educated workers. We find that transfer students receive an “indirect” wage benefit insofar as changing colleges allows them to earn a degree. Some transfer students receive an additional “direct” wage benefit, presumably because switching schools increases their skill investment opportunities.

Suggested Citation

  • Audrey Light & Wayne Strayer, 2004. "Who Receives the College Wage Premium?: Assessing the Labor Market Returns to Degrees and College Transfer Patterns," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(3).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:39:y:2004:i:3:p746-773
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    1. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746.
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    7. Dominic J. Brewer & Eric Eide & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1996. "Does It Pay To Attend An Elite Private College? Cross Cohort Evidence on the Effects of College Quality on Earnings," NBER Working Papers 5613, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Loury, Linda Datcher & Garman, David, 1995. "College Selectivity and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 289-308, April.
    9. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
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    11. Dominic J. Brewer & Eric R. Eide & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1999. "Does It Pay to Attend an Elite Private College? Cross-Cohort Evidence on the Effects of College Type on Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 104-123.
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    Cited by:

    1. Montgomery, Mark & Anderson, Katharine, 2007. "Best laid plans: Gender and the MBA completion rates of GMAT registrants," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 175-191, March.
    2. Audrey Light & Alita Nandi, 2007. "Identifying race and ethnicity in the 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 26(2), pages 125-144, April.
    3. Alfonso Flores-Lagunes & Audrey Light, 2010. "Interpreting Degree Effects in the Returns to Education," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(2).
    4. Alfonso Flores-Lagunes & Audrey Light, "undated". "Interpreting Sheepskin Effects in the Returns to Education," Working Papers 22, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Education Research Section..
    5. Andrews, Rodney & Li, Jing & Lovenheim, Michael F., 2014. "Heterogeneous paths through college: Detailed patterns and relationships with graduation and earnings," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 93-108.
    6. Gibbison, Godfrey A. & Henry, Tracyann L. & Perkins-Brown, Jayne, 2011. "The chicken soup effect: The role of recreation and intramural participation in boosting freshman grade point average," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 247-257, April.
    7. Katja Görlitz & Barbara S. Grave, 2012. "Wage Differentials by Field of Study – The Case of German University Graduates," Ruhr Economic Papers 0316, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    8. repec:zbw:rwirep:0316 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Uschi Backes-Gellner & Stephan Veen, 2006. "Incentives for Schools, Educational Signals and Labour Market Outcomes," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0009, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Jun 2006.
    10. Darwin Miller, 2007. "Isolating the Causal Impact of Community College Enrollment on Educational Attainment and Labor Market Outcomes in Texas," Discussion Papers 06-033, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    11. Jepsen, Christopher, 2008. "Multinomial probit estimates of college completion at 2-year and 4-year schools," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 155-160, February.
    12. Christopher Jepsen, 2008. "Multinomial Probit Estimates of College Completion at Two-Year and Four-Year Schools," Open Access publications 10197/4447, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    13. Liu, Vivian Y.T. & Belfield, Clive R. & Trimble, Madeline J., 2015. "The medium-term labor market returns to community college awards: Evidence from North Carolina," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 42-55.
    14. Hans-Peter Y. Qvist & Anders Holm & Martin D. Munk, 2016. "Demand and Supply Effects and Returns to College Education - Evidence from a Natural Experiment with Engineers in Denmark," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20164, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
    15. Barbara S. Grave & Katja Goerlitz, 2012. "Wage differentials by field of study -- the case of German university graduates," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 284-302.

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