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Estimating the returns to schooling: a likelihood approach based on normal mixtures

  • John K. Dagsvik
  • TorbjØrn HÆgeland
  • Arvid Raknerud

In this paper we develop likelihood based methods for statistical inference in a joint system of equations for the choice of length of schooling and earnings. The model for schooling choice is assumed to be an ordered probit model, whereas the earnings equation contains variables that are flexible transformations of schooling and experience, with corresponding coefficients that are allowed to be heterogeneous across individuals. Under the assumption that the distribution of the random terms of the model can be expressed as a particular finite mixture of multinormal distributions, we show that the joint probability distribution for schooling and earnings can be expressed on closed form. In an application of our method on Norwegian data, we find that the mixed Gaussian model offers a substantial improvement in fit to the (heavy-tailed) empirical distribution of log-earnings compared to a multinormal benchmark model.

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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Applied Econometrics.

Volume (Year): 26 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 (06)
Pages: 613-640

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Handle: RePEc:wly:japmet:v:26:y:2011:i:4:p:613-640
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  1. Belzil, Christian, 2006. "The Return to Schooling in Structural Dynamic Models: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 2370, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 11259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Christian Belzil & J�rgen Hansen, 2002. "Unobserved Ability and the Return to Schooling," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 2075-2091, September.
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  6. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  7. David Card, 2000. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," NBER Working Papers 7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
  9. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  10. Pedro Carneiro & Karsten T. Hansen & James J. Heckman, 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College," NBER Working Papers 9546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1995. "The career decisions of young men," Working Papers 559, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  12. Haegeland, Torbjorn & Klette, Tor Jakob & Salvanes, Kjell G, 1999. " Declining Returns to Education in Norway? Comparing Estimates across Cohorts, Sectors and Over Time," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(4), pages 555-76, December.
  13. Gronau, Reuben, 1974. "Wage Comparisons-A Selectivity Bias," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1119-43, Nov.-Dec..
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  15. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-94, July.
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