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What is it About Schooling That the Labor Market Rewards? The Components of the Return to Schooling

  • Cyril Pasche

    ()

    (Department of Economics and “Leading House on the Economics of Education”, University of Geneva)

Research on determining what it is about schooling that the labor market rewards is scarce. This paper shows that when speci…cally controlling for schooling cognitive skills (i.e. the capacity to process information and apply knowledge) and not cognitive skills as a whole, a considerable share of the return to schooling is constituted of cognitive skills. This contrasts with previous research that strongly favored noncognitive skills (i.e. behavioral and personality traits) as the key component of the return to schooling. Results show schools are a place where one acquires, or is sorted, on a knowledge and a behavioral criteria in similar shares. Findings also suggest that cognitive skills acquired in school are considerably more likely to be rewarded than their non-schooling counterpart. This e¤ect may be attributed to the signaling value of schooling. Such conclusions give weight to current policies that employ cognitive skill tests to asses schooling quality.

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File URL: http://repec.business.uzh.ch/RePEc/iso/leadinghouse/0029_lhwpaper.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU) in its series Economics of Education Working Paper Series with number 0029.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0029
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  1. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
  2. Gary S. Becker, 1994. "Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition)," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck94-1, May.
  3. Green, David A. & Craig Riddell, W., 2003. "Literacy and earnings: an investigation of the interaction of cognitive and unobserved skills in earnings generation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 165-184, April.
  4. Henry S. Farber & Robert Gibbons, 1991. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 3764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  6. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
  7. Glick, Peter & Sahn, David E., 2009. "Cognitive skills among children in Senegal: Disentangling the roles of schooling and family background," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 178-188, April.
  8. Joseph G. Altonji & Charles R. Pierret, 1997. "Employer learning and statistical discrimination," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-97-11, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  9. Gintis, Herbert, 1971. "Education, Technology, and the Characteristics of Worker Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(2), pages 266-79, May.
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