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Education and Income in the Early Twentieth Century: Evidence from the Prairies


  • Katz, Lawrence
  • Goldin, Claudia


We present the first estimates of the returns to years of schooling before 1940 using a large sample individuals (from the 1915 Iowa State Census). The returns to a year of high school or college were substantial in 1915—about 11 percent for all males and in excess of 12 percent for young males. Education enabled individuals to enter lucrative white-collar jobs, but sizable educational wage differentials also existed within occupational groups. Returns were substantial even for those in farming. We find, using U.S. census data, that returns to education decreased between 1915 and 1940 and again during the 1940s.

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  • Katz, Lawrence & Goldin, Claudia, 2000. "Education and Income in the Early Twentieth Century: Evidence from the Prairies," Scholarly Articles 2766688, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:2766688

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    1. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1995. "The Decline of Non-Competing Groups: Changes in the Premium to Education, 1890 to 1940," NBER Working Papers 5202, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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