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How Large are the Social Returns to Education? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws

  • Daron Acemoglu
  • Joshua Angrist

Average schooling in US states is highly correlated with state wage levels, even after controlling for the direct effect of schooling on individual wages. We use an instrumental variables strategy to determine whether this relationship is driven by social returns to education. The instrumentals for average schooling are derived from information on the child labor laws and compulsory attendance laws that affected men in our Census samples, while quarter of birth is used as an instrument for individual schooling. This results in precisely estimated private returns to education of about seven percent, and small social returns, typically less than one percent, that are not significantly different from zero.

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Paper provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 99-30.

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Date of creation: Nov 1999
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Handle: RePEc:mit:worpap:99-30
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MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (MIT), DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS, 50 MEMORIAL DRIVE CAMBRIDGE MASSACHUSETTS 02142 USA

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Web page: http://econ-www.mit.edu/

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  1. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," NBER Working Papers 3358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 1707, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Angrist, J.D. & Imbens, G.W., 1992. "Average Causal Response with Variable Treatment Intensity," Papers 9234, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  4. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1995. "Split-Sample Instrumental Variables Estimates of the Return to Schooling," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 225-35, April.
  5. Goldin, Claudia, 1998. "America's Graduation from High School: The Evolution and Spread of Secondary Schooling in the Twentieth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 345-374, June.
  6. Daron Acemoglu, 1998. "Changes in Unemployment and Wage Inequality: An Alternative Theory and Some Evidence," NBER Working Papers 6658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Kevin Lang & David Kropp, 1986. "Human Capital Versus Sorting: The Effects of Compulsory Attendance Laws," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 609-624.
  8. Rauch James E., 1993. "Productivity Gains from Geographic Concentration of Human Capital: Evidence from the Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 380-400, November.
  9. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1998. "Empirical Strategies in Labor Economics," Working papers 98-7, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  11. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Alan J. Marcus, 1982. "Minimum Wages and Teenagers' Enrollment-Employment Outcomes: A Multinomial Logit Model," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 39-58.
  12. Joshua D. Angrist & Kathryn Graddy & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Non-Parametric Demand Analysis with an Application to the Demand for Fish," NBER Technical Working Papers 0178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Margo, Robert A. & Aldrich Finegan, T., 1996. "Compulsory schooling legislation and school attendance in turn-of-the century America: A 'natural experiment' approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 103-110, October.
  14. Gary Chamberlain & Guido W. Imbens, 1996. "Hierarchical Bayes Models with Many Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Lang, Kevin, 1993. "Ability Bias, Discount Rate Bias and the Return to Education," MPRA Paper 24651, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. Topel, Robert, 1999. "Labor markets and economic growth," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 44, pages 2943-2984 Elsevier.
  17. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," NBER Working Papers 4832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 1999. "Human capital and externalities in cities," Economics Working Papers 494, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2000.
  19. repec:pri:indrel:338 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Gary S. Becker, 1994. "Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition)," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck94-1, Jan-Jun.
  21. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
  22. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-437.
  23. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2000. "Interactions-Based Models," Working Papers 00-05-028, Santa Fe Institute.
  24. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1995. "Split Sample Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. George J. Borjas, 1992. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 123-150.
  26. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 1998. "Does Schooling Cause Growth or the Other Way Around?," NBER Working Papers 6393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200.
  28. David Card, 1993. "Using Geographic Variation in College Proximity to Estimate the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 4483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. repec:fth:prinin:338 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. Daron Acemoglu, 1996. "A Microfoundation for Social Increasing Returns in Human Capital Accumulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 779-804.
  31. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  32. Jin Huem Park, 1994. "Estimation of Sheepskin Effects and Returns to Schooling Using he Old and the New CPS Measures of Educational Attainment," Working Papers 717, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  33. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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