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Returns to university education; evidence from an institutional reform

  • Dinand Webbink

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    In 1982, duration of university education in the Netherlands decreased from five to four years. This institutional reform is exploited for estimating the causal effect of one year of university education on wages in 1997. Wages of employees who enrolled just before or after the reform are compared using data from the Dutch Wage Structure Survey of 1997. We find that the fifth year of university education increased wages with 7 to 9 percent. This wage differential is found for employees enrolling four years before or after the reform. Confounding factors like time-effects, typical age-effects or ability-bias do not seem to bias the main results. The findings suggest that there is scope for increasing private contributions of students. Moreover, the reform may have harmed total welfare. Alternative policies of sticking to five-year duration and increasing private contributions for higher education could have given a more favourable outcome.

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    File URL: http://www.cpb.nl/sites/default/files/publicaties/download/returns-university-education-evidence-institutional-reform.pdf
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    Paper provided by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in its series CPB Discussion Paper with number 34.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2004
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    Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:34
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    1. Meghir, Costas & Palme, Marten, 2001. "The Effect of a Social Experiment in Education," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 0451, Stockholm School of Economics.
    2. Orley Ashenfelter & Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek, 1999. "A Review of Estimates of the Schooling/Earnings Relationship, with Tests for Publication Bias," Working Papers 804, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014, November.
    5. Kalwij, A.S., 1996. "Estimating the Economic Return to Schooling on the Basis of Panel Data," Discussion Paper 1996-55, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    6. Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 1995. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling for the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1278-86, December.
    7. Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2004. "Evaluating the Effect of Tax Deductions on Training," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 461-488, April.
    8. Levin, Jesse & Plug, Erik J. S., 1999. "Instrumenting education and the returns to schooling in the Netherlands," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 521-534, November.
    9. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1249-1287, November.
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