Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis
Although the college-high school wage gap for younger men has doubled over the past 30 years, the gap for older men has remained nearly constant. We argue that these shifts reflect changes in the relative supply of highly-educated workers across age groups. Cohorts born in the first half of the century had steadily rising educational attainments that offset rising demand for better-educated workers. This trend ended abruptly in the early 1950s and has only recently resumed. Using a model with imperfect substitution between similarly-educated workers in different age groups, we show that a slowdown in the rate of growth of educational attainment across cohorts will lead to a rise in the return to college for young workers that eventually works its way through the age distribution. This prediction is remarkably consistent with data for the U.S. over the period from 1959 to 1995. Estimates based on a version of the model with two education groups high school equivalent and college equivalent workers suggest that the elasticity of substitution between different age groups is large but finite (around 5) while the elasticity of substitution between the two education groups is about 2.5. We also examine data for the United Kingdom and Canada: both countries experienced similar slowdowns in the rate of growth of educational attainment. Results from these countries are comparable to the U.S. findings, and underscore the importance of cohort-specific relative supplies in interpreting movements in education-related wage differentials.
|Date of creation:||Apr 2000|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Card, David and Thomas Lemieux. "Can Falling Supply Explain The Rising Return To College For Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2001, v116(2,May), 705-746.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- George E. Johnson, 1997. "Changes in Earnings Inequality: The Role of Demand Shifts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 41-54, Spring.
- George J. Borjas & Richard B. Friedman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "How Much Do Immigration and Trade Affect Labor Market Outcomes?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 1-90.
- David Card, 1998. "Falling Union Membership and Rising Wage Inequality: What's the Connection?," NBER Working Papers 6520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-29, April.
- Richard B. Freeman & Karen Needels, 1991.
"Skill Differentials in Canada in an Era of Rising Labor Market Inequality,"
NBER Working Papers
3827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Richard B. Freeman & Karen Needels, 1993. "Skill Differentials in Canada in an Era of Rising Labor Market Inequality," NBER Chapters, in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 45-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- W. Craig Riddell, 1993.
"Unionization in Canada and the United States: A Tale of Two Countries,"
in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 109-148
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Riddell, W.C., 1993. "Unionization in Canada and the United States: A Tale of Two Countries," Papers 1993-1, Queen's at Kingston - Sch. of Indus. Relat. Papers in Industrial Relations.
- Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2000. "Ability, Educational Ranks, and Labor Market Trends: The Effects of Shifts in the Skill Composition of Educational Groups," JCPR Working Papers 146, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
- John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, September.
- Finis Welch, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," UCLA Economics Working Papers 146, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Welch, Finis, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S65-97, October.
- Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7655. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.