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Eliciting Student Expectations of the Returns to Schooling

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  • Jeff Dominitz
  • Charles F. Manski

Abstract

We report here on the design and first application of an interactive computer-administered personal interview (CAPI) survey eliciting from high school students and college undergraduates their expectations of the income they would earn if they were to complete different levels of schooling. We also elicit respondents' beliefs about current earnings distributions. Whereas a scattering of earlier studies have elicited point expectations of earnings unconditional on future schooling, we elicit subjective earnings distributions under alternative scenarios for future earnings. We find that respondents, even ones as young as high school sophomores, are willing and able to respond meaningfully to questions eliciting their earnings expectations in probabilistic form. Respondents vary considerably in their earnings expectations but there is a common belief that the returns to a college education are positive and that earnings rise between ages 30 and 40. There is a common belief that one's own future earnings are rather uncertain. Moreover, respondents tend to overestimate the current degree of earnings inequality in American society.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeff Dominitz & Charles F. Manski, 1994. "Eliciting Student Expectations of the Returns to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 4936, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4936
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Willis, Robert J & Rosen, Sherwin, 1979. "Education and Self-Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 7-36, October.
    2. Charles T. Clotfelter & Michael Rothschild, 1993. "Studies of Supply and Demand in Higher Education," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot93-1, May.
    3. Manski, Charles F., 1992. "Identification Problems In The Social Sciences," SSRI Workshop Series 292716, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Social Systems Research Institute.
    4. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Adolescent Econometricians: How Do Youth Infer the Returns to Schooling?," NBER Chapters, in: Studies of Supply and Demand in Higher Education, pages 43-60, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    6. Francine D. Blau & Marianne A. Ferber, 1991. "Career Plans and Expectations of Young Women and Men: The Earnings Gap and Labor Force Participation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(4), pages 581-607.
    7. F. Thomas Juster, 1966. "Consumer Buying Intentions and Purchase Probability: An Experiment in Survey Design," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number just66-2, May.
    8. Manski, C.F., 1989. "The Use Of Intentions Data To Predict Behaviour : A Best- Case Analysis," Working papers 8905, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C1 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General
    • C2 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables
    • C3 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables
    • C4 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics
    • C5 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling
    • C8 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs

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