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Income, Schooling, and Ability: Evidence from a New Sample of Identical Twins

  • Orley Ashenfelter
  • Cecilia Rouse

We develop a model of optimal schooling investments and estimate it using new data on approximately 700 identical twins. We estimate an average return to schooling of 9 percent for identical twins, but estimated returns appear to be slightly higher for less able individuals. Simple cross-section estimates are marginally upward biased. These empirical results imply that more able individuals attain more schooling because they face lower marginal costs of schooling, not because of higher marginal benefits.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6106.

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Date of creation: Jul 1997
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Publication status: published as Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 113, no. 1 (February 1998): 253-284.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6106
Note: CH LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Orley Ashenfelter & Alan Krueger, 1992. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," Working Papers 683, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Hausman, Jerry A. & Newey, Whitney K. & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Powell, James L., 1991. "Identification and estimation of polynomial errors-in-variables models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 273-295, December.
  3. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia Rouse, 1993. "Labor Market Returns to Two- And Four-Year College: Is A Credit a Credit And Do Degrees Matter?," Working Papers 690, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Willis, Robert J & Rosen, Sherwin, 1979. "Education and Self-Selection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S7-36, October.
  5. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," Working Papers 653, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1994. "Endowments and the Allocation of Schooling in the Family and in the Marriage Market: The Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1131-74, December.
  7. 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.
  8. Hause, John C, 1972. "Earnings Profile: Ability and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S108-S38, Part II, .
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  12. Amemiya, Yasuo, 1985. "Instrumental variable estimator for the nonlinear errors-in-variables model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 273-289, June.
  13. David Card, 1993. "Using Geographic Variation in College Proximity to Estimate the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 4483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Garen, John, 1984. "The Returns to Schooling: A Selectivity Bias Approach with a Continuous Choice Variable," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(5), pages 1199-1218, September.
  15. Thomas J. Kane & Cecilia E. Rouse, 1993. "Labor Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year Colleges: Is a Credit a Credit and Do Degrees Matter?," NBER Working Papers 4268, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. 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.
  17. Chamberlain, Gary, 1982. "Multivariate regression models for panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 5-46, January.
  18. Altonji, Joseph G & Dunn, Thomas A, 1996. "The Effects of Family Characteristics on the Return to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 692-704, November.
  19. Lang, Kevin, 1993. "Ability Bias, Discount Rate Bias and the Return to Education," MPRA Paper 24651, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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