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Ability, families, education and earnings in Britain

  • Lorraine Dearden


    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies and Department of Quantitative Social Science Institute of Education, University of London)

The paper estimates the returns to education for a cohort of individuals born in Britain in March 1958 who have been followed since birth until the age of 33. The data used has a wealth of information on family background including parental education, social class and interest shown in the child's education as well as measures of ability. These variables are typically missing in studies looking at the returns to schooling. In the paper we Ud that the return to an additional year of full-time education for the UK population as a whole is somewhere between 5 to 7 per cent for men and 8 to 10 per cent for women even after correcting for the ehcts of measurement error. The paper also presents evidence that the returns to an additional year of schooling in the UK are heterogeneous. The results from the paper suggest that individuals undertaking education involving some sort of formal qualification have significantly larger rates of return to an additional year of education than individuals who have obtained no formal education. Individuals whose highest educational qualification is an A level (the highest schooling qualification in the UK) appear to have the highest average return to an additional year of education at around 15 per cent for both men and women. There is also some evidence that individuals with lower tastes for education, have significantly higher marginal returns to education. The results of the paper suggest that recent IV estimates of the returns to schooling in the UK, which exceed typical OLS estimates, may overestimate the average marginal return for the population as a whole.

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Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W98/14.

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Length: 43 pp.
Date of creation: Jul 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:98/14
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  1. Lorraine Dearden & Javier Ferri & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The effect of school quality on educational attainment and wages," IFS Working Papers W00/22, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Butcher, Kristin F & Case, Anne, 1994. "The Effect of Sibling Sex Composition on Women's Education and Earnings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 531-63, August.
  3. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," NBER Working Papers 4832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alan Krueger & Orley Ashenfelter, 1992. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," NBER Working Papers 4143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Orley Ashenfelter & David J. Zimmerman, 1993. "Estimates of the Returns to Schooling From Sibling Data: Fathers, Sons and Brothers," NBER Working Papers 4491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Pagan, Adrian, 1984. "Econometric Issues in the Analysis of Regressions with Generated Regressors," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 25(1), pages 221-47, February.
  7. Griliches, Zvi & Mason, William M, 1972. "Education, Income, and Ability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S74-S103, Part II, .
  8. Colm Harmon; & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of Economic Return to Schooling in the UK," Economics, Finance and Accounting Department Working Paper Series n540195, Department of Economics, Finance and Accounting, National University of Ireland - Maynooth.
  9. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  10. David Card, 1993. "Using Geographic Variation in College Proximity to Estimate the Return to Schooling," Working Papers 696, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  11. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra, 1998. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 261-94, April.
  12. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1991. "Estimating the Payoff to Schooling Using the Vietnam-era Draft Lottery," Working Papers 670, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  13. Blackburn, McKinley L & Neumark, David, 1993. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 521-44, July.
  14. Harmon, C & Ian Walker, 1995. "Estimates of the economic return to schooling for the UK," IFS Working Papers W95/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  15. James J. Heckman, 1995. "Instrumental Variables: A Cautionary Tale," NBER Technical Working Papers 0185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. M Arellano & Costas Megir & Mary Silles, 1990. "Female Labour Supply and On-the-Job Search: An Empirical Model Estimated using Complementary Data Sets," CEP Discussion Papers dp0009, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  17. Smith, Richard J & Blundell, Richard W, 1986. "An Exogeneity Test for a Simultaneous Equation Tobit Model with an Application to Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 679-85, May.
  18. John Bound & David A. Jaeger & Regina Baker, 1993. "The Cure Can Be Worse than the Disease: A Cautionary Tale Regarding Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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