IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Misreported schooling and returns to education: evidence from the UK


  • Erich Battistin

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Barbara Sianesi

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies)


In this paper we study the impact of misreported treatment status on the estimation of causal treatment effects. We characterise the bias introduced by misclassification on the average treatment effect on the treated under the assumption of selection on observables. Although the bias of matching-type estimators computed from misclassified data cannot in general be signed, we show that the bias is most likely to be downward if misclassification does not depend on variables entering the selection-on-observables assumption, or only depends on such variables via the propensity score index. We extend the framework to multiple treatments. We provide results to bound the returns to a number of educational qualifications in the UK semi-parametrically, and by using the unique nature of our data we assess the plausibility for the two biases from measurement error and from omitted variables to cancel out.

Suggested Citation

  • Erich Battistin & Barbara Sianesi, 2006. "Misreported schooling and returns to education: evidence from the UK," CeMMAP working papers CWP07/06, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:07/06

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Horowitz, Joel & Manski, Charles, 1997. "Nonparametric Analysis of Randomized Experiments With Missing Covariate and Outcome Data," Working Papers 97-16, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
    2. Aigner, Dennis J., 1973. "Regression with a binary independent variable subject to errors of observation," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 49-59, March.
    3. Steven Mcintosh, 2006. "Further Analysis of the Returns to Academic and Vocational Qualifications," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 68(2), pages 225-251, April.
    4. Arnaud Chevalier & Colm Harmon & Ian Walker & Yu Zhu, 2004. "Does Education Raise Productivity, or Just Reflect it?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(499), pages 499-517, November.
    5. Peter Robinson, 1997. "The Myth of Parity of Esteem: Earnings and Qualifications," CEP Discussion Papers dp0354, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics,in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843 Elsevier.
    7. Battistin, Erich & De Nadai, Michele & Sianesi, Barbara, 2014. "Misreported schooling, multiple measures and returns to educational qualifications," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 181(2), pages 136-150.
    8. Richard Blundell & Lorraine Dearden & Barbara Sianesi, 2003. "Evaluating the impact of education on earnings in the UK: Models, methods and results from the NCDS," IFS Working Papers W03/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    9. Blundell, Richard, et al, 2000. "The Returns to Higher Education in Britain: Evidence from a British Cohort," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(461), pages 82-99, February.
    10. Dearden, Lorraine, et al, 2002. "The Returns to Academic and Vocational Qualifications in Britain," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 249-274, July.
    11. Arthur Lewbel, 2007. "Estimation of Average Treatment Effects with Misclassification," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(2), pages 537-551, March.
    12. Rajeev H. Dehejia & Sadek Wahba, 1998. "Causal Effects in Non-Experimental Studies: Re-Evaluating the Evaluation of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 6586, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Blanden, Jo & Goodman, Alissa & Gregg, Paul & Machin, Stephen, 2002. "Changes in intergenerational mobility in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19507, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    14. Guido W. Imbens & Charles F. Manski, 2004. "Confidence Intervals for Partially Identified Parameters," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(6), pages 1845-1857, November.
    15. Heckman, James J. & Lalonde, Robert J. & Smith, Jeffrey A., 1999. "The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1865-2097 Elsevier.
    16. Bollinger, Christopher R., 1996. "Bounding mean regressions when a binary regressor is mismeasured," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 387-399, August.
    17. Galindo-Rueda, Fernando & Vignoles, Anna, 2002. "Class Ridden or Meritocratic? An Economic Analysis of Recent Changes in Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 677, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
    19. Lorraine Dearden, 1999. "Qualifications and earnings in Britain: how reliable are conventional OLS estimates of the returns to education?," IFS Working Papers W99/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    20. Molinari, Francesca, 2008. "Partial identification of probability distributions with misclassified data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 81-117, May.
    21. Card, David, 1996. "The Effect of Unions on the Structure of Wages: A Longitudinal Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 957-979, July.
    22. Aprajit Mahajan, 2006. "Identification and Estimation of Regression Models with Misclassification," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(3), pages 631-665, May.
    23. Del Bono, Emilia & Galindo-Rueda, Fernando, 2004. "Do a Few Months of Compulsory Schooling Matter? The Education and Labour Market Impact of School Leaving Rules," IZA Discussion Papers 1233, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    24. Black, Dan & Sanders, Seth & Taylor, Lowell, 2003. "Measurement of Higher Education in the Census and Current Population Survey," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 98, pages 545-554, January.
    25. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
    26. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
    27. Dearden, Lorraine, 1999. "The effects of families and ability on men's education and earnings in Britain1," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 551-567, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Yingying Dong, 2012. "Regression Discontinuity Applications with Rounding Errors in the Running Variable," Working Papers 111206, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    2. Erich Battistin & Enrico Rettore & Ugo Trivellato, 2005. "Choosing among alternative classification criteria to measure the labour force state," IFS Working Papers W05/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    3. Joop Hartog & Aslan Zorlu, 2009. "How important is homeland education for refugees’ economic position in The Netherlands?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(1), pages 219-246, January.
    4. Anna Vignoles & Augustin de Coulon, 2008. "An Analysis of the Benefit of NVQ2 Qualifications Acquired at Age 26-34," CEE Discussion Papers 0106, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    5. Kristensen, Nicolai & WestergĂĄrd-Nielsen, Niels C., 2006. "A Large-Scale Validation Study of Measurement Errors in Longitudinal Survey Data," IZA Discussion Papers 2329, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Measurement Error; Misclassification; Programme Evaluation; Returns to Educational Qualifications; Treatment Effect; Bounds;

    JEL classification:

    • C10 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:07/06. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Emma Hyman). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.