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Estimating the Returns to Schooling: A Likelihood Approach Based on Normal Mixtures

In this paper we develop likelihood based methods for statistical inference in a joint system of equations for the choice of length of schooling and earnings. The model for schooling choice is assumed to be an ordered probit model, whereas the earnings equation contains variables that are flexible transformations of schooling and experience, with corresponding coefficients that are allowed to be heterogeneous across individuals. Under the assumption that the distribution of the random terms of the model can be expressed as a particular finite mixture of multinormal distributions, we show that the joint probability distribution for schooling and earnings can be expressed on closed form. In an application of our method on Norwegian data, we find that the mixed Gaussian model offers a substantial improvement in fit to the (heavy-tailed) empirical distribution of log-earnings compared to a multinormal benchmark model.

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Paper provided by Statistics Norway, Research Department in its series Discussion Papers with number 567.

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Date of creation: Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:567
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  1. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1995. "The career decisions of young men," Working Papers 559, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Belzil, Christian, 2007. "The return to schooling in structural dynamic models: a survey," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 1059-1105, July.
  3. 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.
  4. Belzil, Christian & Hansen, Jörgen, 2002. "Unobserved Ability and the Return to Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 508, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Christian Belzil & Jörgen Hansen, 2007. "A Structural Analysis of the Correlated Random Coefficient Wage Regression Model," Post-Print halshs-00201350, HAL.
  6. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
  7. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 1997. "On two stage least squares estimation of the average treatment effect in a random coefficient model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 129-133, October.
  8. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1998. "Life Cycle Schooling and Dynamic Selection Bias: Models and Evidence for Five Cohorts of American Males," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 262-333, April.
  9. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-94, July.
  10. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Pedro Carneiro & Karsten T. Hansen & James J. Heckman, 2003. "Estimating Distributions of Treatment Effects with an Application to the Returns to Schooling and Measurement of the Effects of Uncertainty on College," NBER Working Papers 9546, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Haegeland, Torbjorn & Klette, Tor Jakob & Salvanes, Kjell G, 1999. " Declining Returns to Education in Norway? Comparing Estimates across Cohorts, Sectors and Over Time," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(4), pages 555-76, December.
  13. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-60, September.
  14. Gronau, Reuben, 1974. "Wage Comparisons-A Selectivity Bias," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1119-43, Nov.-Dec..
  15. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
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