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Assessing the Effect of Schooling on Earnings Using a Social Experiment


  • Meghir, Costas

    () (Department of Economics)

  • Palme, Mårten

    () (Dept. of Economic Statistics, Stockholm School of Economics)


The implementation of the 1950 Swedish comprehensive school reform was preceded by a unique social experiment. During this experiment between 1949 and 1962 the new school system was implemented in stages. This allows us to study the same cohort of individuals going through two different school systems, one of them implying at least one year of prolonged compulsory schooling, in a very similar environment. We use this exogenous variation in educational outcomes to estimate the average returns to education allowing for heterogeneity in the returns across individuals. We also use an ability measure (IQ scores and grades obtained at age 12 or 13) to allow for heterogenous returns to observed ability.

Suggested Citation

  • Meghir, Costas & Palme, Mårten, 1999. "Assessing the Effect of Schooling on Earnings Using a Social Experiment," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 313, Stockholm School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0313

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Returns to schooling; education reform; ability bias; selection bias; instrumental variables; random coefficient models;

    JEL classification:

    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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