Sheepskin Effects in the Returns to Education by Ethnic Group: Evidence from Northeastern Brazil
This paper examines the relative magnitudes of "sheepskin effects" in the returns to education for the three main ethnic groups in the Metropolitan Region of Salvador (MRS), Bahia state, in Northeastern Brazil, and ascertains whether their pattern is consistent with a simple signalling model. We show that failure to account for the strong signal furnished by admission to university, which is subject to a rigorous entrance exam in Bahia state, artificially inflates the estimated rate of return to an additional year of university education and results in downward bias in the estimated sheepskin effect of completing a four-year university degree. This is especially true for blacks. Moreover, our empirical results suggest that sheepskin effects take the traditional form of an additional return to the completion of a diploma for whites, whereas for blacks the additional return stems entirely from the sheepskin-like effect associated with admission to university.
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