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Compulsory Education and the Benefits of Schooling

  • Melvin Stephens, Jr.
  • Dou-Yan Yang

Causal estimates of the benefits of increased schooling using U.S. state schooling laws as instruments typically rely on specifications which assume common trends across states in the factors affecting different birth cohorts. Differential changes across states during this period, such as relative school quality improvements, suggest that this assumption may fail to hold. Across a number of outcomes including wages, unemployment, and divorce, we find that statistically significant causal estimates become insignificant and, in many instances, wrong-signed when allowing year of birth effects to vary across regions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19369.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Melvin Stephens Jr. & Dou-Yan Yang, 2014. "Compulsory Education and the Benefits of Schooling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1777-92, June.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19369
Note: ED LS
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  1. Edwards, Linda Nasif, 1978. "An Empirical Analysis of Compulsory Schooling Legislation, 1940-1960," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 203-22, April.
  2. Devereux, Paul J. & Hart, Robert A., 2008. "Forced to Be Rich? Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 3305, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  4. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1990. "School Quality and Black/White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," Working Papers 652, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  6. Marcelo J. Moreira, 2003. "A Conditional Likelihood Ratio Test for Structural Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1027-1048, 07.
  7. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2003. "Why the apple doesn't fall far: understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital," CeMMAP working papers CWP16/03, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  8. Keith Finlay & Leandro M. Magnusson, 2009. "Implementing Weak Instrument Robust Tests for a General Class of Instrumental Variables Models," Working Papers 0901, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
  9. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2002. "Were Compulsory Attendance and Child Labor Laws Effective? An Analysis from 1915 to 1939," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 401-35, October.
  11. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117, 02.
  12. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2009. "The impact of Rosenwald Schools on Black achievement," Working Paper Series WP-09-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  13. Karen Clay & Jeff Lingwall & Melvin Stephens, Jr., 2012. "Do Schooling Laws Matter? Evidence from the Introduction of Compulsory Attendance Laws in the United States," NBER Working Papers 18477, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Julien Grenet, 2013. "Is Extending Compulsory Schooling Alone Enough to Raise Earnings? Evidence from French and British Compulsory Schooling Laws," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 115(1), pages 176-210, 01.
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