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Economic Returns to Education: What We Know, What We Don’t Know, and Where We Are Going – Some Brief Pointers

  • Colm Harmon

    (UCD Geary Institute, University College Dublin Research School of Economics, Australian National University IZA, Bonn)

The estimation of the economic return to education has perhaps been one of the predominant areas of analysis in applied economics for over 50 years. In this short note we consider some of the recent directions taken by the literature, and also some of the blockages faced by both science and policymakers in pushing forward some key issues. This serves by way of introduction to a set of papers for a special issue of the Economics of Education Review.

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Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201115.

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Length: 11 pages
Date of creation: 08 Aug 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201115
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  1. Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance John & Todd, Petra E., 2008. "Earnings Functions and Rates of Return," IZA Discussion Papers 3310, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. James J. Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 2005. "Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 11259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ian Walker & Yu Zhu, 2008. "The College Wage Premium and the Expansion of Higher Education in the UK," Working Papers 200817, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
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  5. Francis Green & Yu Zhu, 2008. "Overqualification, Job Dissatisfaction, and Increasing Dispersion in the Returns to Graduate Education," Studies in Economics 0803, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  6. Milligan, Kevin & Moretti, Enrico & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2004. "Does education improve citizenship? Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1667-1695, August.
  7. James J. Heckman & Sergio Urzua, 2009. "Comparing IV With Structural Models: What Simple IV Can and Cannot Identify," NBER Working Papers 14706, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Dickson, Matt & Smith, Sarah, 2011. "What Determines the Return to Education: An Extra Year or a Hurdle Cleared?," IZA Discussion Papers 5524, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Angel de la Fuente & Antonio Ciccone, 2003. "Human capital in a global and knowledge-based economy," Working Papers 70, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  10. James Heckman & Justin L. Tobias & Edward Vytlacil, 2001. "Four Parameters of Interest in the Evaluation of Social Programs," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 210-223, October.
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  12. Devereux, Paul J. & Fan, Wen, 2011. "Earnings returns to the British education expansion," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1153-1166.
  13. Ashenfelter, O. & Harmon, C. & Oosterbeek, H., 1999. "A Review of Estimates of the Schooling/ Earnings Relationship, with tests for Publication Bias," Papers 99/20, College Dublin, Department of Political Economy-.
  14. Henderson, Daniel J. & Polachek, Solomon & Wang, Le, 2011. "Heterogeneity in Schooling Rates of Return," IZA Discussion Papers 5662, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Harmon, Colm & Hogan, Vincent & Walker, Ian, 2001. "Dispersion in the Economic Return to Schooling," CEPR Discussion Papers 3037, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek & Ian Walker, 2003. "The Returns to Education: Microeconomics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 115-156, 04.
  17. Park, Seonyoung, 2011. "Returning to school for higher returns," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1215-1228.
  18. Comay, Yochanan & Melnik, A & Pollatschek, M A, 1973. "The Option Value of Education and the Optimal Path for Investment in Human Capital," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(2), pages 421-35, June.
  19. Chevalier, Arnaud, 2011. "Subject Choice and Earnings of UK Graduates," IZA Discussion Papers 5652, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  20. Philip Oreopoulos & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Priceless: The Nonpecuniary Benefits of Schooling," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 159-84, Winter.
  21. Lance Lochner, 2004. "Education, Work, and Crime: A Human Capital Approach," NBER Working Papers 10478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 948-964, June.
  23. 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.
  24. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Do dropouts drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2213-2229, December.
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