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The Changing Roles of Education and Ability in Wage Determination

Listed author(s):
  • Gonzalo Castex

    ()

    (Central Bank of Chile)

  • Evgenia Dechter

    ()

    (University of New South Wales)

This study examines changes in returns to formal education and cognitive skills over the last 20 years using the 1979 and 1997 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. We show that cognitive skills had a 30%-50% larger effect on wages in the 1980s than in the 2000s. Returns to education were higher in the 2000s. These developments are not explained by changing distributions of workers’ observable characteristics or by changing labor market structure. We show that the decline in returns to ability can be attributed to differences in the growth rate of technology between the 1980s and 2000s.

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File URL: http://research.economics.unsw.edu.au/RePEc/papers/2012-43.pdf
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Paper provided by School of Economics, The University of New South Wales in its series Discussion Papers with number 2012-43.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2012
Handle: RePEc:swe:wpaper:2012-43
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Web page: http://www.economics.unsw.edu.au/
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  12. James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2001. "Identifying The Role Of Cognitive Ability In Explaining The Level Of And Change In The Return To Schooling," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 1-12, February.
  13. Ardiana N. Gashi & Geoff Pugh & Nick Adnett, 2008. "Technological change and employer-provided training: Evidence from German establishments," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0026, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
  14. Blackburn, McKinley L & Neumark, David, 1993. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 521-544, July.
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  16. Jeff Grogger & Eric Eide, 1995. "Changes in College Skills and the Rise in the College Wage Premium," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(2), pages 280-310.
  17. 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 251-266, May.
  18. Josh Kinsler & Ronni Pavan, 2011. "Family Income and Higher Education Choices: The Importance of Accounting for College Quality," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages 453-477.
  19. Ana Aizcorbe & Stephen D Oliner & Daniel E Sichel, 2008. "Shifting Trends in Semiconductor Prices and the Pace of Technological Progress," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 43(3), pages 23-39, July.
  20. Joseph G. Altonji & Prashant Bharadwaj & Fabian Lange, 2012. "Changes in the Characteristics of American Youth: Implications for Adult Outcomes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 783-828.
  21. Bartel, Ann P & Sicherman, Nachum, 1998. "Technological Change and the Skill Acquisition of Young Workers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(4), pages 718-755, October.
  22. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  23. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ethan G. Lewis, 2006. "Schooling and the Armed Forces Qualifying Test: Evidence from School-Entry Laws," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
  24. Yona Rubinstein & Daniel Tsiddon, 2004. "Coping with Technological Change: The Role of Ability in Making Inequality so Persistent," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 305-346, 09.
  25. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-442, June.
  26. Michael F. Lovenheim & C. Lockwood Reynolds, 2011. "Changes in Postsecondary Choices by Ability and Income: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(1), pages 70-109.
  27. John Cawley & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1998. "Understanding the Role of Cognitive Ability in Accounting for the Recent Rise in the Economic Return to Education," NBER Working Papers 6388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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