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Do returns to schooling differ by race and ethnicity?

  • Lisa Barrow
  • Cecilia Elena Rouse

Using data from the U.S. Decennial Census and the National Longitudinal Surveys, we find little evidence of differences in the return to schooling across racial and ethnic groups, even with attempts to control for ability and measurement error biases. While our point estimates are relatively similar across racial and ethnic groups, our conclusion is driven in part by relatively large standard errors. ; That said, we find no evidence that returns to schooling are lower for African Americans or Hispanics than for non-minorities. As a result, policies that increase education among the low-skilled have a good possibility of increasing economic well-being and reducing inequality. More generally, our analysis suggests further research is needed to better understand the nature of measurement error and ability bias across subgroups in order to fully understand potential heterogeneity in the return to schooling across the population.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-05-02.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-05-02
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  1. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," Working Papers 710, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," NBER Working Papers 3572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Orley Ashenfelter & Cecilia Rouse, 1998. "Income, Schooling, And Ability: Evidence From A New Sample Of Identical Twins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 253-284, February.
  4. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Rouse & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Estimating Returns to Schooling When Schooling is Misreported," Working Papers 798, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  5. Ashenfelter, Orley & Ham, John, 1979. "Education, Unemployment, and Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S99-116, October.
  6. Jin Huem Park, 1994. "Estimation of Sheepskin Effects and Returns to Schooling Using he Old and the New CPS Measures of Educational Attainment," Working Papers 717, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. Chamberlain, Gary & Griliches, Zvi, 1975. "Unobservables with a Variance-Components Structure: Ability, Schooling, and the Economic Success of Brothers," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 16(2), pages 422-49, June.
  8. Lisa Barrow & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2005. "Do Returns to Schooling Differ by Race and Ethnicity?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 83-87, May.
  9. Taber, Christopher R, 2001. "The Rising College Premium in the Eighties: Return to College or Return to Unobserved Ability?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 665-91, July.
  10. David Card, 2000. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," NBER Working Papers 7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  12. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  14. William Rodgers & William Spriggs, 1996. "What does the AFQT really measure: Race, wages, schooling and the AFQT score," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 13-46, June.
  15. Altonji, Joseph G & Dunn, Thomas A, 1996. "The Effects of Family Characteristics on the Return to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 692-704, November.
  16. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Elena Rouse & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Estimating Returns to Schooling When Schooling is Misreported," NBER Working Papers 7235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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