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Estimating the BenefiÂ…t of High School for College-Bound Students

  • Morin, Louis-Philippe

Studies based on instrumental variable techniques suggest that the value of a high school education is large for potential dropouts, yet we know much less about the size of the benefi…t for students who will go on to post-secondary education. To help …fill this gap, I measure the value-added of a year of high-school mathematics for university-bound students using a recent Ontario secondary school reform. The subject speci…ficity of this reform makes it possible to identify the benefi…t of an extra year of mathematics despite the presence of self-selection: one can use subjects unaffected by the reform to control for potential ability differences between control and treatment groups. Further, the richness of the data allows me to generalize the standard difference-in-differences estimator, correcting for heterogeneity in ability measurement across subjects. The estimated value- added to an extra year of mathematics is small for these students –of the order of 17 percent of a standard deviation in university grades. This evidence helps to explain why the literature fi…nds only modest effects of taking more mathematics in high school on wages, the small monetary gain being due to a lack of subject-speci…c human capital accumulation. Within- and between-sample comparisons also suggest that the extra year of mathematics benefi…ts lower-ability students more than higher-ability students.

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File URL: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/workingpapers/CLSRN%20Working%20Paper%20no.%2054%20-%20Morin.pdf
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Paper provided by Vancouver School of Economics in its series CLSSRN working papers with number clsrn_admin-2010-3.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: 30 Jan 2010
Date of revision: 30 Jan 2010
Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2010-3
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/

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  1. Joshua Angrist & Daniel Lang & Philip Oreopoulos, 2006. "Lead Them to Water and Pay Them to Drink: An Experiment with Services and Incentives for College Achievement," NBER Working Papers 12790, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Abowd, John M & Card, David, 1987. "Intertemporal Labor Supply and Long-term Employment Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 50-68, March.
  3. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  4. Joseph G. Altonji & Lewis M. Segal, 1994. "Small Sample Bias in GMM Estimation of Covariance Structures," NBER Technical Working Papers 0156, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Philip Oreopoulos, 2006. "Estimating Average and Local Average Treatment Effects of Education when Compulsory Schooling Laws Really Matter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 152-175, March.
  6. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," NBER Working Papers 3572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. John M. Abowd & David Card, 1986. "On the Covariance Structure of Earnings and Hours Changes," NBER Working Papers 1832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Joseph G. Altonji & Ana Paula Martins & Aloysius Siow, 1987. "Dynamic Factor Models of Consumption, Hours, and Income," NBER Working Papers 2155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Baker, Michael, 1997. "Growth-Rate Heterogeneity and the Covariance Structure of Life-Cycle Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(2), pages 338-75, April.
  10. Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 1995. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling for the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1278-86, December.
  11. Levine, Phillip B & Zimmerman, David J, 1995. "The Benefit of Additional High-School Math and Science Classes for Young Men and Women," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 137-49, April.
  12. Joel L. Horowitz, 1998. "Bootstrap Methods for Covariance Structures," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 39-61.
  13. Loury, Linda Datcher & Garman, David, 1995. "College Selectivity and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 289-308, April.
  14. Ethel B. Jones & John D. Jackson, 1990. "College Grades and Labor Market Rewards," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(2), pages 253-266.
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