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Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling

  • McKinley L. Blackburn
  • David Neumark

Over the 1980s there were sharp increases in the return to schooling estimated with conventional wage regressions. We use both a signaling model and a human capital model to explore how the relationship between ability and schooling could have changed over this period in ways Chat would have increased the schooling coefficient in these regressions. Our empirical results reject the hypothesis that an increase in the upward bias of the schooling coefficient, due to a change in the relationship between ability and schooling, underlies the observed increase in the return to education over the 1980s. We also find that the increase in the return to education has occurred largely for workers with relatively high levels of academic ability.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3693.

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Date of creation: May 1991
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Labor Economics. Volume 11, Issue 3, Page 521, Jan 1993
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3693
Note: LS
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  1. Paul Taubman & Terence Wales, 1972. "Mental Ability and Higher Educational Attainment in the 20th Century," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number taub72-1, December.
  2. Harris, Milton & Holstrom, Bengt, 1982. "A Theory of Wage Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(3), pages 315-33, July.
  3. Hausman, Jerry, 2015. "Specification tests in econometrics," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 38(2), pages 112-134.
  4. Katz, Lawrence F. & Revenga, Ana L., 1989. "Changes in the structure of wages: The United States vs Japan," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 522-553, December.
  5. Griliches, Zvi & Mason, William M, 1972. "Education, Income, and Ability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S74-S103, Part II, .
  6. Arrow, Kenneth J., 1973. "Higher education as a filter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 193-216, July.
  7. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  8. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  9. Stapleton, David C & Young, Douglas J, 1988. "Educational Attainment and Cohort Size," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(3), pages 330-61, July.
  10. Heckman, James J & Honore, Bo E, 1990. "The Empirical Content of the Roy Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1121-49, September.
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