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Educational reform, ability and family background

  • Costas Meghir

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Yale University)

  • Mårten Palme

In this paper we evaluate the impact of a major school reform, that took place in the 1950s in Sweden, on educational attainment and earnings. The reform, which has many common elements with reforms in other European countries including the UK, consisted of increasing compulsor schooling, imposing a national curriculum and abolishing selectionby ability into Academic and non-academic streams at the age of 12 (comprehensive school reform). Our data combines survey data with administrative sources. We find that the reform increased both the educational attainment and the earnings of children whose fathers had just complusory education. However the earnings of those with educated parents declined - possibly because of a dilution of quality at the top end of the education levels. The overall effect of the reform was however positive.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W04/10.

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Length: 17 pp.
Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:04/10
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  1. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," NBER Working Papers 3572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ashenfelter, Orley C, 1978. "Estimating the Effect of Training Programs on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(1), pages 47-57, February.
  3. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  4. James J. Heckman, 1999. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 7288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Margo, Robert A. & Aldrich Finegan, T., 1996. "Compulsory schooling legislation and school attendance in turn-of-the century America: A 'natural experiment' approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 103-110, October.
  6. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  7. Alan Krueger, 2002. "Inequality, Too Much of a Good Thing," Working Papers 845, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. David Card, 2000. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," NBER Working Papers 7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Lorraine Dearden & Javier Ferri & Costas Meghir, 1998. "The effect of school quality on educational attainment and wages," IFS Working Papers W98/03, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  10. Lang, Kevin & Kropp, David, 1986. "Human Capital versus Sorting: The Effects of Compulsory Attendance Laws," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(3), pages 609-24, August.
  11. Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 1995. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling for the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1278-86, December.
  12. 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.
  13. Harmon, C & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of the economic return to schooling for the UK," IFS Working Papers W95/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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