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Educational Returns, Ability Composition and Cohort Effects: Theory and Evidence for Cohorts of Early-Career UK Graduates

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Listed:
  • Norman Ireland
  • Robin A. Naylor
  • Jeremy Smith
  • Shqiponja Telhaj

Abstract

An increase over time in the proportion of young people obtaining a degree is likely to impact on the relative ability compositions (i) of graduates and non-graduates and (ii) across graduates with different classes of degree award. In a signalling framework, we examine the implications of this on biases across cohorts in estimates of educational returns. In an empirical analysis, we exploit administrative data on whole populations of UK university students for ten graduate cohorts to investigate the extent to which early labour market outcomes vary with class of degree awarded. Consistent with our theoretical model, we find that returns by degree class increased across cohorts during a period of substantial graduate expansion. We also corroborate the empirical findings with evidence from complementary data on graduate sample surveys.

Suggested Citation

  • Norman Ireland & Robin A. Naylor & Jeremy Smith & Shqiponja Telhaj, 2009. "Educational Returns, Ability Composition and Cohort Effects: Theory and Evidence for Cohorts of Early-Career UK Graduates," CEP Discussion Papers dp0939, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0939
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Feng, Andy & Graetz, Georg, 2017. "A question of degree: The effects of degree class on labor market outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 140-161.
    2. Freier, Ronny & Schumann, Mathias & Siedler, Thomas, 2015. "The earnings returns to graduating with honors — Evidence from law graduates," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 39-50.
    3. Di Pietro, Giorgio, 2010. "The Impact of Degree Class on the First Destinations of Graduates: A Regression Discontinuity Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 4836, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Sergey Roshchin & Victor Rudakov, 2015. "Do Starting Salaries for Graduates Measure the Quality of Education? A Review of Studies by Russian and Foreign Authors," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 1, pages 137-181.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Educational Returns; College Wage Premium; Degree Class; Ability Bias; Statistical Discrimination;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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