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Labor Market Effects of School Quality: Theory and Evidence

  • David Card
  • Alan B. Krueger

This paper presents an overview and interpretation of the literature relating school quality to students' subsequent labor market success. We begin with a simple theoretical model that describes the determination of schooling and earnings with varying school quality. A key insight of the model is that changes in school quality may affect the characteristics of individuals who choose each level of schooling, imparting a potential selection bias to comparisons of earnings conditional on education. We then summarize the literature that relates school resources to students' earnings and educational attainment. A variety of evidence suggests that students who were educated in schools with more resources tend to earn more and have higher schooling. We also discuss two important issues in the literature: the tradeoffs involved in using school-level versus more aggregated (district or state-level) quality measures; and the evidence on school quality effects for African Americans educated in the segregated school systems of the South.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5450.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5450.

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Date of creation: Feb 1996
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Publication status: published as in Gary Burtless (ed.), Does Money Matter? The Link Between Schools, Student Achievement and Adult Success,(Washington, DC: Brookings Institute, 1996)pp.97-140.(With David Card).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5450
Note: LS
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  1. Lang, Kevin, 1993. "Ability Bias, Discount Rate Bias and the Return to Education," MPRA Paper 24651, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. James Heckman & Anne Layne-Farrar & Petra Todd, 1995. "The Schooling Quality-Earnings Relationship: Using Economic Theory to Interpret Functional Forms Consistent with the Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014, November.
  4. Grogger, Jeff, 1996. "Does School Quality Explain the Recent Black/White Wage Trend?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 231-53, April.
  5. Link, Charles & Ratledge, Edward & Lewis, Kenneth, 1980. "The Quality of Education and Cohort Variation in Black-White Earnings Differentials: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(1), pages 196-203, March.
  6. Miller, Paul W & Mulvey, Charles & Martin, Nick, 1995. "What Do Twins Studies Reveal about the Economic Returns to Education? A Comparison of Australian and U.S. Findings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 586-99, June.
  7. 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.
  8. Ribar, D., 1991. "Teenage Fertility and High Scholl Completion," Papers 10-91-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  9. Spence, A Michael, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-74, August.
  10. Akerhielm, Karen, 1995. "Does class size matter?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 229-241, September.
  11. James Heckman & Anne Layne-Farrar & Petra Todd, 1995. "Does Measured School Quality Really Matter? An Examination of the Earnings-Quality Relationship," NBER Working Papers 5274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Paul Wachtel, 1975. "The Returns to Investment in Higher Education: Another View," NBER Chapters, in: Education, Income, and Human Behavior, pages 151-170 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Hanushek, Eric A., 2006. "School Resources," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  14. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
  15. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
  16. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1991. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," NBER Working Papers 3713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Akin, John S & Garfinkel, Irv, 1980. "The Quality of Education and Cohort Variation in Black-White Earnings Differentials: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(1), pages 186-91, March.
  18. Willis, Robert J., 1987. "Wage determinants: A survey and reinterpretation of human capital earnings functions," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 525-602 Elsevier.
  19. Robert J. Willis & Sherwin Rosen, 1978. "Education and Self-Selection," NBER Working Papers 0249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Thomas I. Ribich & James L. Murphy, 1975. "The Economic Returns to Increased Educational Spending," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 10(1), pages 56-77.
  21. Morgenstern, Richard D, 1973. "Direct and Indirect Effects on Earnings of Schooling and Socio-Economic Background," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 55(2), pages 225-33, May.
  22. Link, Charles R & Ratledge, Edward C & Lewis, Kenneth A, 1976. "Black-White Differences in Returns to Schooling: Some New Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(1), pages 221-23, March.
  23. Michael Boozer & Alan Krueger & Shari Wolkon, 1992. "Race and School Quality Since Brown vs. Board of Education," Working Papers 681, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  24. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  25. Robert H. Haveman & Barbara L. Wolfe, 1984. "Schooling and Economic Well-Being: The Role of Nonmarket Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 377-407.
  26. George E. Johnson & Frank P. Stafford, 1973. "Social Returns to Quantity and Quality of Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(2), pages 139-155.
  27. Jin Huem Park, 1994. "Returns to Schooling: A Peculiar Deviation from Linearity," Working Papers 714, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  28. Behrman, Jere R & Birdsall, Nancy, 1983. "The Quality of Schooling: Quantity Alone is Misleading," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 928-46, December.
  29. Levy, Frank & Murnane, Richard J, 1992. "U.S. Earnings Levels and Earnings Inequality: A Review of Recent Trends and Proposed Explanations," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 1333-81, September.
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