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Returns to Graduate and Professional Education: The Roles of Mathematical and Verbal Skills by Major

  • Song, Moohoun
  • Orazem, Peter

Students in majors with higher average quantitative GRE scores are less likely to attend graduate school while students in majors with higher average verbal GRE scores are more likely to attend graduate school.  This sorting effect means that students whose cognitive skills are associated with lower earnings at the bachelor’s level are the most likely to attend graduate school.  As a result, there is a substantial downward bias in estimated returns to graduate education.  Correcting for the sorting effect raises estimated annualized returns to a Master’s or doctoral degree from about 5% to 14.5% and 12.6% respectively.  Estimated returns to professional degrees rise from 14% to 20%.  These findings correspond to a large increase in relative earnings received by post graduate degree holders in the United States over the past 20 years.

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File URL: http://www.econ.iastate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/papers/p3838-2005-10-12.pdf
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Paper provided by Iowa State University, Department of Economics in its series Staff General Research Papers with number 12432.

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Date of creation: 12 Oct 2005
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Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:12432
Contact details of provider: Postal: Iowa State University, Dept. of Economics, 260 Heady Hall, Ames, IA 50011-1070
Phone: +1 515.294.6741
Fax: +1 515.294.0221
Web page: http://www.econ.iastate.edu
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  1. Bishop, John Hillman, 1989. "Is the Test Score Decline Responsible for the Productivity Growth Decline?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 178-97, March.
  2. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
  3. Altonji, Joseph G & Dunn, Thomas A, 1996. "The Effects of Family Characteristics on the Return to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 692-704, November.
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  5. Jeff Grogger & Eric Eide, 1995. "Changes in College Skills and the Rise in the College Wage Premium," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(2), pages 280-310.
  6. Taber, Christopher R, 2001. "The Rising College Premium in the Eighties: Return to College or Return to Unobserved Ability?," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 665-91, July.
  7. Richard B. Freeman, 1976. "A cobweb model of the supply and starting salary of new engineers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 29(2), pages 236-248, January.
  8. Levine, Phillip B & Zimmerman, David J, 1995. "The Benefit of Additional High-School Math and Science Classes for Young Men and Women," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 137-49, April.
  9. Ehrenberg, Ronald G, 1992. "The Flow of New Doctorates," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 830-75, June.
  10. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  11. Deschenes, Olivier, 2007. "Estimating the Effects of Family Background on the Return to Schooling," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 265-277, July.
  12. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1996. "College Choice and Wages: Estimates Using Data on Female Twins," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 672-85, November.
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