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Trends in quality-adjusted skill premia in the United States, 1960-2000

  • Pedro Carneiro

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

  • Sokbae 'Simon' Lee

    ()

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

This paper presents new evidence that increases in college enrollment lead to a decline in the average quality of college graduates between 1960 and 2000, resulting in a decrease of 8 percentage points in the college premium. The standard demand and supply framework (Katz and Murphy, 1992, Card and Lemieux, 2001) can qualitatively account for the trend in the college and age premia over this period, but the quantitative adjustments that need to be made to account for changes in quality are substantial. Furthermore, the standard interpretation of the supply effect can be misleading if the quality of college workers is not controlled for. To illustrate the importance of these adjustments, we reanalyze the problem studied in Card and Lemieux (2001), who observe that the rise in the college premium in the 1980s occurred mainly for young workers, and attribute this to the differential behavior of the supply of skill between the young and the old. Our results show that changes in quality are as important as changes in prices to explain the phenomenon they document.

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File URL: http://cemmap.ifs.org.uk/wps/cwp0209_2.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series CeMMAP working papers with number CWP02/09.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:02/09
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  10. Derek Neal, 2002. "The Measured Black-White Wage Gap Among Women is Too Small," NBER Working Papers 9133, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Bishop, John Hillman, 1989. "Is the Test Score Decline Responsible for the Productivity Growth Decline?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 178-97, March.
  16. Deschenes, Olivier, 2007. "Estimating the Effects of Family Background on the Return to Schooling," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 265-277, July.
  17. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain The Rising Return To College For Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746, May.
  18. Keane, Michael & Moffitt, Robert & Runkle, David, 1988. "Real Wages over the Business Cycle: Estimating the Impact of Heterogeneity with Micro Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1232-66, December.
  19. Casey B. Mulligan & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Selection, Investment, and Women's Relative Wages Over Time," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1061-1110, August.
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  23. Groen, J.A.Jeffrey A., 2004. "The effect of college location on migration of college-educated labor," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 125-142.
  24. Lee, Lung-Fei, 1983. "Generalized Econometric Models with Selectivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 507-12, March.
  25. Caroline M. Hoxby & Bridget Terry, 1999. "Explaining Rising Income and wage Inequality Among the College Educated," NBER Working Papers 6873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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