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Prison-Based Education and Re-Entry into the Mainstream Labor Market

  • John H. Tyler
  • Jeffrey R. Kling

We estimate the post-release economic effects of participation in prison-based General Educational Development (GED) programs using a panel of earnings records and a rich set of individual information from administrative data in the state of Florida. Fixed effects estimates of the impact of participating in the GED education program show post-release quarterly earnings gains of about 15 percent for program participants relative to observationally similar non-participants. We also show, however, that these earnings gains accrue only to racial/ethnic minority offenders and any GED-related earnings gains for this group seem to fade in the third year after release from prison. Estimates comparing offenders who obtained a GED to those who participated in GED-related prison education programs but left prison without a GED show no systematic evidence of an independent impact of the credential itself on post-release quarterly earnings.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12114.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Revised and published in "Barriers to Reentry? The Labor Market for Released Prisoners in Post-Industrial America". Edited by Shawn Bushway, Michael Stoll, and David Weiman (New York: Russell Sage Foundation Press, 2007, 227-256)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12114
Note: ED LS
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  1. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & John H. Tyler, 1999. "Who Benefits from Obtaining a GED? Evidence from High School and Beyond," NBER Working Papers 7172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1991. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," NBER Working Papers 3804, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Jacobson, Louis S & LaLonde, Robert J & Sullivan, Daniel G, 1993. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 685-709, September.
  4. Orley Ashenfelter & Dean Hyslop, 1999. "Measuring the Effects of Arbitration on Wage Levels: The Case of Police Officers," NBER Working Papers 7294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bruce Western & Becky Pettit, 2000. "Incarceration and racial inequality in men's employment," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(1), pages 3-16, October.
  6. Gary S. Becker, 1975. "Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, with Special Reference to Education, Second Edition," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck75-1, December.
  7. Bruce Western & Becky Pettit, 2000. "Incarceration and Racial Inequality in Men's Employment," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(1), pages 3-16, October.
  8. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  9. John H. Tyler & Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett, 2000. "Estimating The Labor Market Signaling Value Of The GED," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(2), pages 431-468, May.
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