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The Sooner the Better? Compulsory Schooling Reforms in Sweden

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  • Fischer, Martin

    (IFN - Research Institute of Industrial Economics)

  • Karlsson, Martin

    (University of Duisburg-Essen)

  • Nilsson, Therese

    (Lund University)

  • Schwarz, Nina

    (University of Duisburg-Essen)

Abstract

This paper evaluates the impact on earnings, pensions, and other labor market outcomes of two parallel educational reforms increasing instructional time in Swedish primary school. The reforms extended the compulsory years of schooling from 6 to 7 years and the annual term length from 34.5/36.5 to 39 weeks per year. Gradually introduced over the 1930-1950 period in more than 2,500 school districts, the extensions generated large exogenous variation in educational attainment at different points in primary school while the overall school system and curricula remained unchanged. The reforms thus constitute an ideal quasi-experimental setting for analyzing the long-run causal impact of compulsory education keeping other school characteristics fixed. With a majority of students receiving only primary schooling, both reforms affected large shares of the population and consequently had large impacts on educational attainment at the compulsory level. We find striking differences in impact between the two reforms, and between males and females. Estimated returns to compulsory schooling are robustly positive only for females, who experience a small increase in early career earnings (~ 2%) when exposed to a 7th year of schooling, and large and persistent increases in earnings (~ 4 – 5%) when exposed to an extended school year. The effects are driven by the extensive margin, in particular increased employment in the public sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Fischer, Martin & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese & Schwarz, Nina, 2016. "The Sooner the Better? Compulsory Schooling Reforms in Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 10430, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10430
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    Cited by:

    1. Hofmarcher, Thomas, 2021. "The effect of education on poverty: A European perspective," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    2. Cattan, Sarah & Kamhöfer, Daniel A. & Karlsson, Martin & Nilsson, Therese, 2017. "The Short- and Long-Term Effects of Student Absence: Evidence from Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 10995, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Jacek Liwiński, 2020. "The Impact of Compulsory Schooling on Hourly Wage: Evidence From the 1999 Education Reform in Poland," Evaluation Review, , vol. 44(5-6), pages 437-470, October.
    4. Hofmann, Sarah & Mühlenweg, Andrea, 2018. "Learning intensity effects in students’ mental and physical health – Evidence from a large scale natural experiment in Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 216-234.
    5. Serratos-Sotelo, Luis & Bengtsson, Tommy & Nilsson, Anton, 2019. "The long-term economic effects of polio: Evidence from the introduction of the polio vaccine to Sweden in 1957," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 32-41.
    6. Titus J. Galama & Adriana Lleras-Muney & Hans van Kippersluis, 2018. "The Effect of Education on Health and Mortality: A Review of Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 24225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    returns to education; educational reforms; compulsory schooling; term length;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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