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The Co-twin Methodology and Returns to Schooling – Testing a Critical Assumption

  • Sandewall, Örjan

    ()

    (London School of Economics)

  • Cesarini, David

    ()

    (Department of Economics)

  • Johannesson, Magnus

    (Department of Economics)

Twins-based estimates of the return to schooling feature prominently in the labor economics literature. The validity of such estimates hinges critically on the assumption that within-pair variation in schooling is explained by factors which are unrelated to wage earning ability. This paper develops a framework for testing this assumption, and finds, using a unique dataset of monozygotic twins, strong evidence against it. Di¤erences in adolescent IQ test scores predict within-pair variation in educational attainment, and including IQ in the wage equation causes within-pair point estimates for the returns to schooling to decline significantly. Our results thus cast doubt on the validity of estimates derived from the co-twin literature.

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Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 806.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 24 Aug 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0806
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  8. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
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  11. Eric Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development," Discussion Papers 07-034, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
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  13. Bockerman, Petri & Vainiomäki, Jari, 2012. "Stature and life-time labor market outcomes: Accounting for unobserved differences," MPRA Paper 42220, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Heather Royer, 2009. "Separated at Girth: US Twin Estimates of the Effects of Birth Weight," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 49-85, January.
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  18. Vikesh Amin, 2011. "Returns to Education: Evidence from UK Twins: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1629-35, June.
  19. Zhang, Junsen & Liu, Pak-Wai & Yung, Linda, 2007. "The Cultural Revolution and returns to schooling in China: Estimates based on twins," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 631-639, November.
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  22. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1994. "Endowments and the Allocation of Schooling in the Family and in the Marriage Market: The Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1131-74, December.
  23. Neumark, David, 1999. "Biases in twin estimates of the return to schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 143-148, April.
  24. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
  25. Miller, Paul W & Mulvey, Charles & Martin, Nick, 1995. "What Do Twins Studies Reveal about the Economic Returns to Education? A Comparison of Australian and U.S. Findings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 586-99, June.
  26. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "The Inheritance of Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
  27. Miller, Paul & Mulvey, Charles & Martin, Nick, 2006. "The return to schooling: Estimates from a sample of young Australian twins," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 571-587, October.
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  29. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
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