Proxying ability by family background in returns to schooling estimations is generally a bad idea
A regression model is considered where earnings are explained by schooling and ability. It is assumed that schooling is measured with error and that there are no data on ability. Regressing earnings on observed schooling then yields an estimate of the return to schooling that is subject to positive omitted variable bias (OVB) and negative measurement error bias (MEB). The effects on the OVB and the MEB from using family background variables as proxies for ability are investigated theoretically and empirically. The theoretical analysis demonstrates that the impact on the OVB is uncertain, while the MEB invariably increases in magnitude. The empirical analysis shows that the MEB generally dominates the OVB. As the measurement error increases and/or more family background variables are added, the total bias rapidly becomes negative, driving the estimated return further and further away from the true value.
|Date of creation:||20 Oct 2008|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||Published in Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 2008, pages 853-875.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: IFAU, P O Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden|
Phone: (+46) 18 - 471 70 70
Fax: (+46) 18 - 471 70 71
Web page: http://www.ifau.se/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Lam, David & Schoeni, Robert F, 1993.
"Effects of Family Background on Earnings and Returns to Schooling: Evidence from Brazil,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 710-40, August.
- Lam. D. & Schoeni, R.F., 1996. "Effects on Family Background on Earnings and Returns to Schooling: Evidence from Brazil," Papers 96-13, RAND - Reprint Series.
- Isacsson, Gunnar, 1999. "Estimates of the return to schooling in Sweden from a large sample of twins," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 471-489, November.
- Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
- Welch, Finis, 1975. "Human Capital Theory: Education, Discrimination, and Life Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(2), pages 63-73, May.
- O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hhs:ifauwp:2008_022. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Monica Fällgren)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.