Estimating the Social Return to Higher Education: Evidence From Longitudinal and Repeated Cross-Sectional Data
Economists have speculated for at least a century that the social return to education may exceed the private return. In this paper, I estimate spillovers from college education by comparing wages for otherwise similar individuals who work in cities with different shares of college graduates in the labor force. OLS estimates show a large positive relationship between the share of college graduates in a city and individual wages, over and above the private return to education. A key issue in this comparison is the presence of unobservable individual characteristics, such as ability, that may raise wages and be correlated with college share. I use a confidential version of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) to estimate a model of non-random selection of workers among cities. By observing the same individual over time, I can control for differences in unobserved ability across individuals and differences in the return to skills across cities. I then investigate the hypothesis that the correlation between college share and wages is due to unobservable city-specific shocks that may raise wages and attract more highly educated workers to different cities. To control for this source of potential bias, I turn to Census data and use two instrumental variables: the lagged city demographic structure and the presence of a land--grant college. The results from Census data are remarkably consistent with those based on the NLSY sample. A percentage point increase in the supply of college graduates raises high school drop-outs' wages by 1.9%, high school graduates' wages by 1.6%, and college graduates wages by 0.4%. The effect is larger for less educated groups, as predicted by a conventional demand and supply model. But even for college graduates, an increase in the supply of college graduates increases wages, as predicted by a model that includes conventional demand and supply factors as well as spillovers.
|Date of creation:||Aug 2002|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 175-212.|
|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.:
- James J. Heckman, 2000.
"Policies to Foster Human Capital,"
JCPR Working Papers
154, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
- Heckman, James J & Sedlacek, Guilherme L, 1990. "Self-selection and the Distribution of Hourly Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages S329-63, January.
- Patricia E. Beeson & Randall W. Eberts, 1987.
"Identifying productivity and amenity effects in interurban wage differentials,"
8707, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
- Beeson, Patricia E & Eberts, Randall W, 1989. "Identifying Productivity and Amenity Effects in Interurban Wage Differentials," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(3), pages 443-52, August.
- Alan B. Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 1999.
"Education for Growth in Sweden and the World,"
NBER Working Papers
7190, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jovanovic, Boyan & Rob, Rafael, 1989. "The Growth and Diffusion of Knowledge," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 569-82, October.
- Roback, Jennifer, 1982. "Wages, Rents, and the Quality of Life," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1257-78, December.
- James E. Rauch, 1991.
"Productivity Gains From Geographic Concentration of human Capital: Evidence From the Cities,"
NBER Working Papers
3905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Rauch James E., 1993. "Productivity Gains from Geographic Concentration of Human Capital: Evidence from the Cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 380-400, November.
- Daron Acemoglu, 1998.
"Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change And Wage Inequality,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
MIT Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1055-1089, November.
- Acemoglu, D., 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," Working papers 97-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 1707, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Edward Glaeser, 1997.
"Learning in Cities,"
NBER Working Papers
6271, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Edward L. Glaeser, 1997. "Learning in Cities," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1814, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- George J. Borjas & Stephen G. Bronars & Stephen J. Trejo, 1992.
"Self-Selection and Internal Migration in the United States,"
NBER Working Papers
4002, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Borjas, George J. & Bronars, Stephen G. & Trejo, Stephen J., 1992. "Self-selection and internal migration in the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 159-185, September.
- Joseph G. Altonji & David Card, 1991.
"The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcomes of Less-skilled Natives,"
in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 201-234
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Joseph Altonji & David Card, 1989. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcome of Less-Skilled Natives," Working Papers 636, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
- Bartel, Ann P, 1989. "Where Do the New U.S. Immigrants Live?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 371-91, October.
- Jaeger, David A, 1997. "Reconciling the Old and New Census Bureau Education Questions: Recommendations for Researchers," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(3), pages 300-309, July.
- Heckman, James J & Honore, Bo E, 1990. "The Empirical Content of the Roy Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1121-49, September.
- Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
- Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Blomquist, Glenn C & Berger, Mark C & Hoehn, John P, 1988. "New Estimates of Quality of Life in Urban Areas," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 89-107, March.
- Heckman, James J & Sedlacek, Guilherme, 1985. "Heterogeneity, Aggregation, and Market Wage Functions: An Empirical Model of Self-selection in the Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1077-1125, December.
- Heckman, James & Layne-Farrar, Anne & Todd, Petra, 1996. "Human Capital Pricing Equations with an Application to Estimating the Effect of Schooling Quality on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 562-610, November.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9108. 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.