Should We Teach Old Dogs New Tricks? The Impact of Community College Retraining on Older Displaced Workers
This paper estimates the returns to retraining for older displaced workers—those 35 or older—by estimating the impact of community college schooling on earnings. Our analysis relies on longitudinal administrative records covering workers displaced from jobs in Washington State during the early 1990s. We find older displaced workers participate in community college schooling at lower rates than younger workers. But, among those who participate, the impact on quarterly earnings for older and younger displaced workers is similar. We estimate one academic year of community college schooling increases long-term earnings by about 7 percent for older males and by about 10 percent for older females. Although these percentages are consistent with those reported in the schooling literature, estimates of the social internal rates of return from this retraining may differ significantly among older and younger workers because of differences in their work lives and their opportunity costs of retraining.
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