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Are Returns to Education on the Decline in Venezuela and Does Mission Sucre Have a Role to Play?

  • Gonzales, Naihobe

    ()

    (Georgia Tech)

  • Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth

    ()

    (Emory University)

There is anecdotal evidence that the standard of living for the educated has fallen in Venezuela over the last few years. This evidence comes as a surprise because after experiencing an economic downturn in 2002 and 2003, Venezuela's economy has boomed (gross domestic product growth has hovered between 8 and 18%) in large part due to the increase in the price of petroleum. In this paper, we provide evidence that returns to education have decreased significantly in Venezuela from 2002 to 2008. More importantly, we focus on what has led to the decrease in returns. We explore a fall in quality and a supply-demand argument for this decline. Mission Sucre was enacted in September 2003 by President Hugo Chavez to provide free mass tertiary education, in particular targeting the poor and marginalized. The implementation of this program created a sudden increase in the supply of skilled labor and had a direct impact on quality of education. Although we do not claim that 100% of the decline between 2002 and 2008 can be linked to this program, we provide ample evidence that a good part of the falling returns can be linked to Mission Sucre. Specifically, we show that for a 1% increase in the share of Mission Sucre students in the state, returns to university level of education declined by about 5.6 percentage points between 2007 and 2008.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4206.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economics of Education Review, 2011, 30 (6), 1348-1369
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4206
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  1. Hsieh, Chang-Tai & Miguel, Edward & Ortega, Daniel & Rodriguez, Francisco, 2009. "The Price of Political Opposition: Evidence from Venezuela's Maisanta," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt8dx9n9r7, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  2. Fleisher, Belton M. & Peter, Klara Sabirianova & Wang, Xiaojun, 2004. "Returns to Skills and the Speed of Reforms: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe, China, and Russia," IZA Discussion Papers 1182, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Yuriy Gorodnichenko & Klara Sabirianova Peter, 2004. "Returns to Schooling in Russia and Ukraine: A Semiparametric Approach to Cross-Country Comparative Analysis," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 719, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  4. Harry Anthony Patrinos & Chris Sakellariou, 2006. "Economic volatility and returns to education in Venezuela: 1992-2002," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(17), pages 1991-2005.
  5. Baland, Jean-Marie & Francois, Patrick, 2000. "Rent-seeking and resource booms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 527-542, April.
  6. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Psacharopoulos, George & Alam, Asad, 1991. "Earnings and education in Venezuela: An update from the 1987 household survey," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 29-36, March.
  8. Lane, Philip R & Tornell, Aaron, 1996. " Power, Growth, and the Voracity Effect," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 213-41, June.
  9. Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth, 2007. "Africa’s Education Enigma? The Nigerian Story," IZA Discussion Papers 3097, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Philip R. Lane & Aaron Tornell, 1999. "The Voracity Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 22-46, March.
  11. Uwaifo Oyelere, Ruth, 2008. "Understanding Low Average Returns to Education in Africa: The Role of Heterogeneity across Education Levels and the Importance of Political and Economic Reforms," IZA Discussion Papers 3766, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Kugler, Bernardo & Psacharopoulos, George, 1989. "Earnings and education in Argentina: an analysis of the 1985 Buenos Aires Household Survey," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 353-365, August.
  13. Patrinos, Harry Anthony & Ridao-Cano, Cris & Sakellariou, Chris, 2006. "Estimating the returns to education : accounting for heterogeneity in ability," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4040, The World Bank.
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