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Estimating marginal returns to education

  • Pedro Carneiro


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

  • James Heckman


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Chicago)

  • Edward Vytlacil


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and NYU)

This paper estimates the marginal returns to college for individuals induced to enroll in college by different marginal policy changes. The recent instrumental variables literature seeks to estimate this parameter, but in general it does so only under strong assumptions that are tested and found wanting. We show how to utilize economic theory and local instrumental variables estimators to estimate the effect of marginal policy changes. Our empirical analysis shows that returns are higher for individuals more likely to attend college. We contrast the returns to well-defined marginal policy changes with IV estimates of the return to schooling. Some marginal policy changes inducing students into college produce very low returns.

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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 CWP29/10.

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Date of creation: 11 Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:29/10
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  1. Stephen V. Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2004. "Estimation of Educational Borrowing Constraints Using Returns to Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 132-182, February.
  2. Kane, Thomas J & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1995. "Labor-Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 600-614, June.
  3. James J. Heckman, 2010. "Building Bridges Between Structural and Program Evaluation Approaches to Evaluating Policy," NBER Working Papers 16110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James J. Heckman & Daniel A. Schmierer & Sergio S. Urzua, 2009. "Testing the Correlated Random Coefficient Model," NBER Working Papers 15463, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. James J. Heckman & Sergio Urzua & Edward Vytlacil, 2008. "Instrumental Variables In Models With Multiple Outcomes: The General Unordered Case," Working Papers 200830, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  6. Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J. & Mullen, Kathleen, 2003. "The Effect of Schooling and Ability on Achievement Test Scores," IZA Discussion Papers 826, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Joseph P. Romano & Michael Wolf, 2005. "Exact and Approximate Stepdown Methods for Multiple Hypothesis Testing," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 100, pages 94-108, March.
  8. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-54, July.
  9. James J. Heckman & Sergio Urzua & Edward Vytlacil, 2006. "Understanding Instrumental Variables in Models with Essential Heterogeneity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 389-432, August.
  10. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Edward Vytlacil, 2002. "Independence, Monotonicity, and Latent Index Models: An Equivalence Result," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 331-341, January.
  12. Kling, Jeffrey R, 2001. "Interpreting Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Returns to Schooling," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(3), pages 358-64, July.
  13. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman & Edward J. Vytlacil, 2009. "Evaluating Marginal Policy Changes and the Average Effect of Treatment for Individuals at the Margin," NBER Working Papers 15211, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother's Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532.
  15. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post-Secondary Schooling," NBER Working Papers 9055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. Aakvik, Arild & Heckman, James J. & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2005. "Estimating treatment effects for discrete outcomes when responses to treatment vary: an application to Norwegian vocational rehabilitation programs," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 15-51.
  18. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
  19. Bjorklund, Anders & Moffitt, Robert, 1987. "The Estimation of Wage Gains and Welfare Gains in Self-selection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 42-49, February.
  20. Heckman, James J. & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2000. "The relationship between treatment parameters within a latent variable framework," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 33-39, January.
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