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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. Henderson, Daniel J. & Polachek, Solomon W. & Wang, Le, 2011. "Heterogeneity in schooling rates of return," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1202-1214.
  2. 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.
  3. Heckman, J J & Tobias, Justin & Vytlacil, Ed, 2001. "Four Parameters of Interest in the Evaluation of Social Programs," Staff General Research Papers 12022, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  4. Chevalier, Arnaud, 2011. "Subject choice and earnings of UK graduates," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1187-1201.
  5. Ian Walker & Yu Zhu, 2008. "The College Wage Premium and the Expansion of Higher Education in the UK," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(4), pages 695-709, December.
  6. Angel de la Fuente & Antonio Ciccone, 2003. "Human capital in a global and knowledge-based economy," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 562.03, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  7. Sergio Urzua & James J. Heckman, 2009. "Comparing IV with Structural Models: What Simple IV Can and Cannot Identify," Working Papers 200906, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  8. 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.
  9. James J. Heckman & Lance J. Lochner & Petra E. Todd, 2008. "Earnings Functions and Rates of Return," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(1), pages 1-31.
  10. Orley Ashenfelter & Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2000. "A Review of Estimates of the Schooling/Earnings Relationship, with Tests for Publication Bias," NBER Working Papers 7457, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Francis Green & Yu Zhu, 2010. "Overqualification, job dissatisfaction, and increasing dispersion in the returns to graduate education," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 740-763, October.
  12. 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.
  13. Robert H. Haveman & Barbara L. Wolfe, 1984. "Schooling and Economic Well-Being: The Role of Nonmarket Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(3), pages 377-407.
  14. Matt Dickson & Sarah Smith, 2011. "What determines the return to education: An extra year or hurdle cleared?," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/256, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  15. 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.
  16. Devereux, Paul J. & Fan, Wen, 2011. "Earnings returns to the British education expansion," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1153-1166.
  17. Harmon, Colm & Hogan, Vincent & Walker, Ian, 2003. "Dispersion in the economic return to schooling," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 205-214, April.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Lance Lochner, 2004. "Education, Work, and Crime: A Human Capital Approach," NBER Working Papers 10478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Park, Seonyoung, 2011. "Returning to school for higher returns," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1215-1228.
  22. 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.
  23. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2001. "An Empirical Analysis of the Risk Properties of Human Capital Returns," Working Papers 2001-10, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  24. Gary S. Becker, 1962. "Investment in Human Capital: A Theoretical Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 9.
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