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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)

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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  1. Heckman, James & Layne-Farrar, Anne & Todd, Petra, 1996. "Human Capital Pricing Equations with an Application to Estimating the Effect of Schooling Quality on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 562-610, November.
  2. Blundell, Richard William & Gosling, Amanda & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Meghir, Costas, 2004. "Changes in the Distribution of Male and Female Wages Accounting for Employment Composition Using Bounds," CEPR Discussion Papers 4705, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Olivetti, Claudia & Petrongolo, Barbara, 2006. "Unequal Pay or Unequal Employment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Gender Gaps," CEPR Discussion Papers 5506, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Amitabh Chandra, 2003. "Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?," NBER Working Papers 9476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Gordon Dahl, 1997. "Mobility and the Returns to Education: Testing A Roy Model With Multiple Markets," Working Papers 760, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746.
  7. Deschenes, Olivier, 2002. "Estimating the Effects of Family Background on the Return to Schooling," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt2qm3867s, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  8. 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.
  9. Chinhui Juhn & Dae Il Kim & Francis Vella, 2005. "The Expansion of College Education in the United States: Is There Evidence of Declining Cohort Quality?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(2), pages 303-315, April.
  10. Derek Neal, 2004. "The Measured Black-White Wage Gap among Women Is Too Small," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S1-S28, February.
  11. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 1998. "Ability Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," Working Papers 98-14, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  12. 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.
  13. Robert J. Willis & Sherwin Rosen, 1978. "Education and Self-Selection," NBER Working Papers 0249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Christopher R. Taber, 2001. "The Rising College Premium in the Eighties: Return to College or Return to Unobserved Ability?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(3), pages 665-691.
  17. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J. & Vytlacil, Edward, 2010. "Estimating Marginal Returns to Education," IZA Discussion Papers 5275, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Bound, John & Groen, Jeffrey & Kezdi, G.Gabor & Turner, Sarah, 2004. "Trade in university training: cross-state variation in the production and stock of college-educated labor," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 143-173.
  19. Casey B. Mulligan & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Selection, Investment, and Women's Relative Wages Over Time," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1061-1110.
  20. Chay, Kenneth Y. & Lee, David S., 2000. "Changes in relative wages in the 1980s Returns to observed and unobserved skills and black-white wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 1-38, November.
  21. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. 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.
  23. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-40, February.
  24. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  25. Meghir, Costas & Whitehouse, Edward, 1996. "The Evolution of Wages in the United Kingdom: Evidence from Micro Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 1-25, January.
  26. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  27. Lee, Lung-Fei, 1983. "Generalized Econometric Models with Selectivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 507-12, March.
  28. repec:oup:restud:v:67:y:2000:i:4:p:635-66 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Richard Blundell & Howard Reed & Thomas M. Stoker, 2003. "Interpreting Aggregate Wage Growth: The Role of Labor Market Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1114-1131, September.
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