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

  • 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)

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.

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File URL: http://www.uh.edu/econpapers/RePEc/hou/wpaper/2004-02.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Houston in its series Working Papers with number 2004-02.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hou:wpaper:2004-02
Contact details of provider: Postal: Houston TX 77023
Web page: http://www.uh.edu/class/economics/

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  1. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
  2. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," NBER Working Papers 4832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Willis, Robert J & Rosen, Sherwin, 1979. "Education and Self-Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S7-36, October.
  5. Stephen Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2000. "Borrowing Constraints and the Returns to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 7761, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. McKinley L. Blackburn & David Neumark, 1991. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 3693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lang, Kevin, 1993. "Ability Bias, Discount Rate Bias and the Return to Education," MPRA Paper 24651, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. 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 561-73, June.
  9. 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 S65-97, October.
  10. 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.
  11. Marcus Stanley, 2003. "College Education And The Midcentury Gi Bills," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(2), pages 671-708, May.
  12. Finis Welch, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," UCLA Economics Working Papers 146, UCLA Department of Economics.
  13. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
  14. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
  15. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2000. "Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
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