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Nature, nurture and market conditions: Ability and education in the policy evaluation approach

  • Bernarda Zamora Talaya

    (Universidad de Alicante)

  • Eduard Gracia

    (Booz Allen Hamilton)

The present paper follows the rationality of the Human Capital Theory to explain the heterogeneity of returns to schooling in a policy evaluation model with the purpose of testing whether people are blocked in any way (credit constraints, uncertainty or other market environment conditions) when they make their schooling choices. The minimal assumption that abler people face lower costs of schooling guarantees the possibility of making the right choice in this framework. The empirical implications of the model are extended further from the properties of ordinary least squares and instrumental variable estimators and centred on predictions about the sign of different policy evaluation parameters (sorting gains and selection biases) and on the shape and variability of marginal returns to education. Within this framework, the paper revises the modern empirical literature on returns to schooling in combination with the theoretical literature on human capital. Empirical evidence for the U.S., shown by a binary choice model, supports the assumption. Evidence obtained from Spanish data in a sequential choice setting does not support the assumption.

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Paper provided by Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie) in its series Working Papers. Serie AD with number 2007-29.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published by Ivie
Handle: RePEc:ivi:wpasad:2007-29
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  1. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2004. "Separating Uncertainty from Heterogeneity in Life Cycle Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 1437, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Zamarro, Gema, 2010. "Accounting for heterogeneous returns in sequential schooling decisions," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(2), pages 260-276, June.
  3. repec:dgr:kubcen:200621 is not listed on IDEAS
  4. Tobias, Justin, 2001. "Are Returns to Schooling Concentrated Among the Most Able? A Semiparametric Analysis of the Ability-Earnings Relationships," Staff General Research Papers 12016, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. Willis, Robert J & Rosen, Sherwin, 1979. "Education and Self-Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S7-36, October.
  6. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2007. "A New Framework for the Analysis of Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 2565, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2007. "Identifying and Estimating the Distributions of Ex Post and Ex Ante Returns to Schooling," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 870-893, December.
  8. 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.
  9. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  10. 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.
  11. Alfonso Alba-Ramírez, 1993. "Mismatch in the Spanish Labor Market: Overeducation?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 28(2), pages 259-278.
  12. Behrman, Jere R & Birdsall, Nancy, 1983. "The Quality of Schooling: Quantity Alone is Misleading," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 928-46, December.
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