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Natives, the Foreign-Born and High School Equivalents: New Evidence on the Returns to the GED

Author

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  • Clark, Melissa A.

    (affiliation not available)

  • Jaeger, David A.

    (University of St. Andrews)

Abstract

In this paper we explore the labor market returns to the General Education Development exam, or GED. Using new data from the Current Population Survey, we examine how the return to the GED varies between U.S. natives and the foreign-born. We find that foreign-born men who hold a GED but received all of their formal schooling outside of the U.S. earn significantly more than either foreign-schooled dropouts or individuals with a foreign high school diploma. For foreign-born men with some U.S. schooling, earning a GED brings higher wages than a traditional U.S. high school diploma, although this difference is not statistically significantly different from zero. These patterns stand in contrast to those for U.S. natives, among whom GED recipients earn less than high school graduates but significantly more than dropouts. The effects for natives appear to become larger over the life cycle and do not seem to be due to cohort effects. While it is difficult to attach a purely causal interpretation to our findings, they do indicate that the GED may be more valuable in the labor market than some previous research suggests.

Suggested Citation

  • Clark, Melissa A. & Jaeger, David A., 2002. "Natives, the Foreign-Born and High School Equivalents: New Evidence on the Returns to the GED," IZA Discussion Papers 477, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp477
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nakabayashi, Masaki, 2011. "Schooling, employer learning, and internal labor market effect: Wage dynamics and human capital investment in the Japanese steel industry, 1930-1960s," MPRA Paper 30597, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Mader, Nicholas S., 2011. "The GED," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & Stephen Machin & Ludger Woessmann (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 9, pages 423-483, Elsevier.
      • James J. Heckman & John Eric Humphries & Nicholas S. Mader, 2010. "The GED," NBER Working Papers 16064, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
      • Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Mader, Nicholas S., 2010. "The GED," IZA Discussion Papers 4975, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Mikal Skuterud & Mingcui Su, 2012. "The influence of measurement error and unobserved heterogeneity in estimating immigrant returns to foreign and host-country sources of human capital," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 1109-1141, December.
    4. Jaeger, David A., 2003. "Estimating the returns to education using the newest current population survey education questions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 385-394, March.
    5. Darolia, Rajeev & Mueser, Peter & Cronin, Jacob, 2021. "Labor market returns to a prison GED," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    6. Prachi Mishra, 2014. "Emigration and wages in source countries: a survey of the empirical literature," Chapters, in: Robert E.B. Lucas (ed.), International Handbook on Migration and Economic Development, chapter 9, pages 241-266, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Christopher R. Bollinger & Barry T. Hirsch, 2006. "Match Bias from Earnings Imputation in the Current Population Survey: The Case of Imperfect Matching," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 483-520, July.
    8. Furtado, Delia & Kong, Haiyang, 2024. "How do low-education immigrants adjust to Chinese import shocks? Evidence using English language proficiency," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 163(C).
    9. Packard, Thomas & Delgado, Melanie & Fellmeth, Robert & McCready, Karen, 2008. "A cost-benefit analysis of transitional services for emancipating foster youth," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(11), pages 1267-1278, November.
    10. James J. Heckman & Paul A. LaFontaine, 2006. "Bias-Corrected Estimates of GED Returns," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 661-700, July.
    11. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 239-281, April.
    12. NAKABAYASHI, Masaki, 2011. "Acquired Skills and Learned Abilities: Wage Dynamics of Blue-collar Workers in Internal Labor Markets," ISS Discussion Paper Series (series F) f153, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo, revised Apr 2012.
    13. Fortin, Nicole & Lemieux, Thomas & Torres, Javier, 2016. "Foreign human capital and the earnings gap between immigrants and Canadian-born workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 104-119.
    14. David Neumark & Olena Nizalova, 2007. "Minimum Wage Effects in the Longer Run," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
    15. Ms. Prachi Mishra, 2006. "Emigration and Brain Drain: Evidence From the Caribbean," IMF Working Papers 2006/025, International Monetary Fund.
    16. Anna Zajacova & Bethany G. Everett, 2014. "The Nonequivalent Health of High School Equivalents," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(1), pages 221-238, March.
    17. Yolanda Kodrzycki, 2002. "Educational attainment as a constraint on economic growth and social progress," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 47(Jun), pages 37-95.
    18. Ilana Akresh, 2007. "U.S. Immigrants’ labor market adjustment: Additional Human capital investment and Earnings Growth," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 44(4), pages 865-881, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    sheepskin effects; immigration; GED;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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