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A New Approach to Estimate the Wage Returns to Work-Related Training


  • Leuven, Edwin

    () (University of Oslo)

  • Oosterbeek, Hessel

    () (University of Amsterdam)


This paper proposes a new approach to identify the wage effects of training. The idea is to narrow down the comparison group by only taking into consideration the workers who wanted to participate in training but did not do so because of some random event. The point estimate of the return to training consistently drops when restricting the comparison group this way. While the OLS estimate of the return to training participation is significantly positive, this is no longer the case when we use the new comparison group. This outcome suggests that a large share of what is usually interpreted as returns to training is actually the return to some unobservable characteristic.

Suggested Citation

  • Leuven, Edwin & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 2002. "A New Approach to Estimate the Wage Returns to Work-Related Training," IZA Discussion Papers 526, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp526

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2004. "Evaluating the Effect of Tax Deductions on Training," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 461-488, April.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1999. "The Structure of Wages and Investment in General Training," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 539-572, June.
    3. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-475, March.
    4. Heckman, James J. & Lalonde, Robert J. & Smith, Jeffrey A., 1999. "The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 31, pages 1865-2097 Elsevier.
    5. John M. Barron & Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black, 1999. "Do Workers Pay for On-The-Job Training?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(2), pages 235-252.
    6. Jonathan R. Veum, 1995. "Sources of Training and Their Impact on Wages," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 812-826, July.
    7. Stephen H. Bell & Larry l. Orr & John D. Blomquist & Glen G. Cain, 1995. "Program Applicants as a Comparison Group in Evaluating Training Programs: Theory and a Test," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number pacg, November.
    8. Greenhalgh, Christine & Stewart, Mark, 1987. "The Effects and Determinants of Training," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 49(2), pages 171-190, May.
    9. Lynch, Lisa M, 1992. "Private-Sector Training and the Earnings of Young Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 299-312, March.
    10. John M. Barron & Mark C. Berger & Dan A. Black, 1997. "On-the-Job Training," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number ojt, November.
    11. Stevens, Margaret, 1994. "A Theoretical Model of On-the-Job Training with Imperfect Competition," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(4), pages 537-562, October.
    12. J.D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens & D.B. Rubin, 1993. "Identification of Causal Effects Using Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Booth, Alison L, 1993. "Private Sector Training and Graduate Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(1), pages 164-170, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Benoît Mahy & Mélanie Volral, 2011. "Firm Training and Labour Demand in Belgium :Does Productivity Dominate Cost Effects ?," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 54(4), pages 367-388.
    2. Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2005. "Dynamische Lohneffekte beruflicher Weiterbildung," MEA discussion paper series 05092, Munich Center for the Economics of Aging (MEA) at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy.
    3. Rita Almeida & Marta Faria, 2014. "The wage returns to on-the-job training: evidence from matched employer-employee data," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-33, December.
    4. Beblavý, Miroslav & Thum, Anna-Elisabeth & Potjagailo, Galina, 2013. "When do adults learn? A cohort analysis of adult education in Europe," CEPS Papers 8059, Centre for European Policy Studies.
    5. Asplund, Rita, 2004. "The Provision and Effects of Company Training. A brief review of the literature," Discussion Papers 907, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
    6. Grit Muehler & Michael Beckmann & Bernd Schauenberg, 2007. "The returns to continuous training in Germany: new evidence from propensity score matching estimators," Review of Managerial Science, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 209-235, November.
    7. Uschi Backes-Gellner & Johannes Mure & Simone Tuor, 2006. "The Puzzle of Non-Participation in Continuing Training – An Empirical Study of Permanent vs. Occasional Non-Participation," Working Papers 0058, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
    8. Bellmann Lutz & Ellguth Peter, 2006. "Verbreitung von Betriebsräten und ihr Einfluss auf die betriebliche Weiterbildung / Works Council Presence and Impact on Training of the Workforce," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 226(5), pages 487-504, October.
    9. Kuckulenz Anja & Maier Michael, 2006. "Heterogeneous Returns to Training: An Analysis with German Data Using Local Instrumental Variables," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 226(1), pages 24-40, February.
    10. Rita Asplund, 2005. "The Provision and Effects of Company Training: A Brief Review of the Literature," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 31, pages 47-73.
    11. Isabell Koske & Jean-Marc Fournier & Isabelle Wanner, 2012. "Less Income Inequality and More Growth – Are They Compatible? Part 2. The Distribution of Labour Income," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 925, OECD Publishing.

    More about this item


    treatment effect; returns to training;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • 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

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