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The Sooner the Better? Compulsory Schooling Reforms in Sweden

Listed author(s):
  • Fischer, Martin

    ()

    (University of Duisburg-Essen)

  • Karlsson, Martin

    ()

    (University of Duisburg-Essen)

  • Nilsson, Therese

    ()

    (Lund University)

  • Schwarz, Nina

    ()

    (University of Duisburg-Essen)

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.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10430.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2016
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10430
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  1. Agüero, Jorge M. & Beleche, Trinidad, 2013. "Test-Mex: Estimating the effects of school year length on student performance in Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 353-361.
  2. Meghir, Costas & Palme, Mårten & Simeonova, Emilia, 2012. "Education, Health and Mortality: Evidence from a Social Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 6462, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," NBER Working Papers 3572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Helena Holmlund, 2008. "A Researchers Guide to the Swedish Compulsory School Reform," CEE Discussion Papers 0087, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  5. Arnaud Chevalier & Colm Harmon & Vincent O’ Sullivan & Ian Walker, 2013. "The impact of parental income and education on the schooling of their children," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-22, December.
  6. Sandberg, Lars G., 1979. "The Case of the Impoverished Sophisticate: Human Capital and Swedish Economic Growth before World War I," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(01), pages 225-241, March.
  7. Margherita Fort & Nicole Schneeweis & Rudolf Winter‐Ebmer, 2016. "Is Education Always Reducing Fertility? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Reforms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 126(595), pages 1823-1855, 09.
  8. Jörn-Steffen Pischke & Till von Wachter, 2008. "Zero Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Germany: Evidence and Interpretation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 592-598, August.
  9. Battistin, Erich & Meroni, Elena Claudia, 2013. "Should We Increase Instruction Time in Low Achieving Schools? Evidence from Southern Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 7437, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Hübener, Mathias & Kuger, Susanne & Marcus, Jan, 2016. "Increased Instruction Hours and the Widening Gap in Student Performance," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145611, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  11. Cygan-Rehm, Kamila & Maeder, Miriam, 2013. "The effect of education on fertility: Evidence from a compulsory schooling reform," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 35-48.
  12. Mathias Huebener & Susanne Kuger & Jan Marcus, 2016. "Increased Instruction Hours and the Widening Gap in Student Performance," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1561, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
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