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Estimating Marginal Returns to Education

  • Carneiro, Pedro


    (University College London)

  • Heckman, James J.


    (University of Chicago)

  • Vytlacil, Edward


    (Yale University)

This paper estimates the marginal returns to college for individuals induced to enroll in college by different marginal policy changes. The recent instrumental variables literature seeks to estimate this parameter, but in general it does so only under strong assumptions that are tested and found wanting. We show how to utilize economic theory and local instrumental variables estimators to estimate the effect of marginal policy changes. Our empirical analysis shows that returns are higher for individuals more likely to attend college. We contrast the returns to well-defined marginal policy changes with IV estimates of the return to schooling. Some marginal policy changes inducing students into college produce very low returns.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5275.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Review, 2011, 110 (6), 2754-2781
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5275
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J. & Mullen, K.J.Kathleen J., 2004. "The effect of schooling and ability on achievement test scores," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 39-98.
  2. Joseph P. Romano & Michael Wolf, 2005. "Exact and Approximate Stepdown Methods for Multiple Hypothesis Testing," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 100, pages 94-108, March.
  3. Henry S. Farber & Jeffrey R. Kling & Alan Krueger, 1999. "Interpreting Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Returns to Schooling," Working Papers 794, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Heckman, James J. & Schmierer, Daniel & Urzua, Sergio, 2010. "Testing the correlated random coefficient model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 158(2), pages 177-203, October.
  5. Heckman, James J. & Urzua, Sergio & Vytlacil, Edward, 2008. "Instrumental Variables in Models with Multiple Outcomes: The General Unordered Case," IZA Discussion Papers 3565, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Edward Vytlacil, 2002. "Independence, Monotonicity, and Latent Index Models: An Equivalence Result," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(1), pages 331-341, January.
  7. James J. Heckman, 2010. "Building Bridges between Structural and Program Evaluation Approaches to Evaluating Policy," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 356-98, June.
  8. Kane, Thomas J & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1995. "Labor-Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 600-614, June.
  9. Heckman, James J. & Urzua, Sergio & Vytlacil, Edward, 2006. "Understanding Instrumental Variables in Models with Essential Heterogeneity," IZA Discussion Papers 2320, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Bjorklund, Anders & Moffitt, Robert, 1987. "The Estimation of Wage Gains and Welfare Gains in Self-selection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 69(1), pages 42-49, February.
  11. repec:oup:restud:v:68:y:2001:i:3:p:665-91 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Pedro Carneiro & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2009. "Evaluating marginal policy changes and the average effect of treatment for individuals at the margin," CeMMAP working papers CWP21/09, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  13. Stephen V. Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2004. "Estimation of Educational Borrowing Constraints Using Returns to Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 132-182, February.
  14. repec:oup:qjecon:v:118:y:2003:i:4:p:1495-1532 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Heckman, James J. & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2000. "The relationship between treatment parameters within a latent variable framework," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 33-39, January.
  16. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post--secondary Schooling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 705-734, October.
  17. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  18. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-54, July.
  19. Aakvik, Arild & Heckman, James J. & Vytlacil, Edward J., 2005. "Estimating treatment effects for discrete outcomes when responses to treatment vary: an application to Norwegian vocational rehabilitation programs," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 15-51.
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