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The Expansion of College Education in the United States: Is There Evidence of Declining Cohort Quality?

Author

Listed:
  • Chinhui Juhn

    () (Department of Economics, University of Houston)

  • Dae-Il Kim

    (School of Economics, Seoul National University)

  • Francis Vella

    (Department of Economics, European University Institute)

Abstract

This paper documents the expansion of college education in the U.S. and examines to what extent the increase in the number of college graduates may have lead to a decline in the average quality of college graduates. Using the 1940-1990 Census, we compare across birth year cohorts with varying levels of college completion. We find some weak evidence that college graduate men from highly educated cohorts earn a relatively smaller wage premium even controlling for the relative supply effect. However, these cohort quality effects account for only a small fraction of the recent fluctuation in the college wage premium.

Suggested Citation

  • Chinhui Juhn & Dae-Il Kim & Francis Vella, 2004. "The Expansion of College Education in the United States: Is There Evidence of Declining Cohort Quality?," Working Papers 2004-02, Department of Economics, University of Houston.
  • Handle: RePEc:hou:wpaper:2004-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kevin M. Murphy & Finis Welch, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326.
    2. Willis, Robert J & Rosen, Sherwin, 1979. "Education and Self-Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 7-36, October.
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    5. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," Working Papers 710, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    6. Blackburn, McKinley L & Neumark, David, 1993. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 521-544, July.
    7. Welch, Finis, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 65-97, October.
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    11. Robert H. Topel, 1997. "Factor Proportions and Relative Wages: The Supply-Side Determinants of Wage Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 55-74, Spring.
    12. Marcus Stanley, 2003. "College Education and the Midcentury GI Bills," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(2), pages 671-708.
    13. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger, 1998. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1169-1213.
    14. Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2000. "Ability, Educational Ranks, and Labor Market Trends: The Effects of Shifts in the Skill Composition of Educational Groups," JCPR Working Papers 146, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    15. Berger, Mark C, 1985. "The Effect of Cohort Size on Earnings Growth: A Reexamination of the Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 561-573, June.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Regev, Tali, 2009. "Imperfect Information, Self-Selection and the Market for Higher Education," Foerder Institute for Economic Research Working Papers 275730, Tel-Aviv University > Foerder Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Tali Regev, 2007. "Imperfect information, self-selection and the market for higher education," Working Paper Series 2007-18, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    3. Carneiro, Pedro & Lee, Sokbae, 2009. "Estimating distributions of potential outcomes using local instrumental variables with an application to changes in college enrollment and wage inequality," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 149(2), pages 191-208, April.
    4. Zimmermann, Markus & Fitzenberger, Bernd & Osikominu, Aderonke, 2016. "Cohort Changes in Educational Pathways and Returns to Education," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145927, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Pedro Carneiro & Sokbae (Simon) Lee, 2005. "Ability, sorting and wage inequality," CeMMAP working papers CWP16/05, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    6. Hendricks, Lutz & Schoellman, Todd, 2014. "Student abilities during the expansion of US education," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 19-36.
    7. Philip A. Trostel, 2007. "The fiscal impacts of college attainment," New England Public Policy Center Working Paper 07-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    8. Mendolicchio Concetta & Paolini Dimitri & Pietra Tito, 2012. "Asymmetric Information And Overeducation," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-29, October.
    9. Nicole M. Fortin, 2006. "Higher-Education Policies and the College Wage Premium: Cross-State Evidence from the 1990s," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 959-987, September.
    10. Pedro Carneiro & Sokbae Lee, 2011. "Trends in Quality-Adjusted Skill Premia in the United States, 1960-2000," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2309-2349, October.
    11. Shao-Hsun Keng & Chun-Hung Lin & Peter F. Orazem, 2017. "Expanding College Access in Taiwan, 1978-2014: Effects on Graduate Quality and Income Inequality," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 1-34.
    12. Yang Wang, 2015. "Education Expansion and Decline in Tertiary Premium in Brazil: 1995-2013," Working Papers 1525, Tulane University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • 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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