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

Listed author(s):
  • 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
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0806
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  1. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352-352.
  2. Böckerman, Petri & Vainiomäki, Jari, 2013. "Stature and Life-Time Labor Market Outcomes: Accounting for Unobserved Differences," IZA Discussion Papers 7424, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. John Bound & Gary Solon, 1998. "Double Trouble: On the Value of Twins-Based Estimation of the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 6721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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 1131-1174, December.
  5. Bonjour, Dorothe & Cherkas, Lynn & Haskel, Jonathan & Spector, Tim, 2002. "Returns to Education: Evidence from UK Twins," CEPR Discussion Papers 3354, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Sandra E. Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2006. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers 0061, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  10. Vikesh Amin, 2011. "Returns to Education: Evidence from UK Twins: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1629-1635, June.
  11. 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.
  12. Neumark, David, 1999. "Biases in twin estimates of the return to schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 143-148, April.
  13. 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.
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  15. Orley Ashenfelter & Cecilia Rouse, 1998. "Income, Schooling, and Ability: Evidence from a New Sample of Identical Twins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 253-284.
  16. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-1160, September.
  17. repec:uwp:jhriss:v:11:y:1976:i:4:p:447-461 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Gunnar Isacsson, 2004. "Estimating the economic return to educational levels using data on twins," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 99-119.
  19. Jere R. Behrman & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2004. "Returns to Birthweight," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 586-601, May.
  20. 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.
  21. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ethan G. Lewis, 2006. "Schooling and the Armed Forces Qualifying Test: Evidence from School-Entry Laws," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2), pages -.
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  23. 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.
  24. Miller, Paul & Mulvey, Charles & Martin, Nick, 2005. "Birth weight and schooling and earnings: estimates from a sample of twins," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 387-392, March.
  25. 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.
  26. Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1999. "Further estimates of the economic return to schooling from a new sample of twins," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 149-157, April.
  27. repec:ucn:wpaper:10197/317 is not listed on IDEAS
  28. Behrman, Jere R. & Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1999. ""Ability" biases in schooling returns and twins: a test and new estimates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 159-167, April.
  29. Anders Bohlmark & Matthew J. Lindquist, 2006. "Life-Cycle Variations in the Association between Current and Lifetime Income: Replication and Extension for Sweden," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 879-900, October.
  30. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  31. 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 586-599, June.
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