IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/upj/weupjo/13-190.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Worker Signals among New College Graduates: The Role of Selectivity and GPA

Author

Listed:

Abstract

Recent studies have found a large earnings premium to attending a more selective college, but the mechanisms underlying this premium have received little attention and remain unclear. In order to shed light on this question, I develop a multidimensional signaling model relying on college grades and selectivity that rationalizes students’ choices of effort and firms’ wage-setting behavior. The model is then used to produce predictions of how the interaction of the signals should be related to wages, namely that the return on college GPA should fall the more selective the institution attended. Using five data sets that span the early 1960s through the late 2000s, I show that the data support the predictions of the signaling model, with support growing stronger over time as college sorting by ability has increased. The findings imply that return to college selectivity depends on GPA, something previously not recognized in the literature, and they can rationalize why employers learn more quickly about college graduates’ productivity than less educated workers’.

Suggested Citation

  • Brad J. Hershbein, 2013. "Worker Signals among New College Graduates: The Role of Selectivity and GPA," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 13-190, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:13-190
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://research.upjohn.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1207&context=up_workingpapers
    Download Restriction: This material is copyrighted. Permission is required to reproduce any or all parts.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Patrick J. Bayer & Peter Arcidiacono & Aurel Hizmo, 2010. "Web Appendix: Beyond Signaling and Human Capital: Education and the Revelation of Ability," Working Papers 10-52, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    2. Kelly Bedard, 2001. "Human Capital versus Signaling Models: University Access and High School Dropouts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(4), pages 749-775, August.
    3. John Bound & Brad Hershbein & Bridget Terry Long, 2009. "Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 119-146, Fall.
    4. Kahn, Lisa B., 2010. "The long-term labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 303-316, April.
    5. Bound, John & Brown, Charles & Mathiowetz, Nancy, 2001. "Measurement error in survey data," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.),Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 59, pages 3705-3843, Elsevier.
    6. Lang, Kevin & Siniver, Erez, 2011. "Why is an elite undergraduate education valuable? Evidence from Israel," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(6), pages 767-777.
    7. Rothschild, Michael & White, Lawrence J, 1995. "The Analytics of the Pricing of Higher Education and Other Services in Which the Customers Are Inputs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 573-586, June.
    8. Peter Arcidiacono & Patrick Bayer & Aurel Hizmo, 2010. "Beyond Signaling and Human Capital: Education and the Revelation of Ability," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 76-104, October.
    9. Lange, Fabian & Topel, Robert, 2006. "The Social Value of Education and Human Capital," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & F. Welch (ed.),Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 8, pages 459-509, Elsevier.
    10. Gautam Bose & Kevin Lang, 2011. "A Theory of Monitoring and Internal Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 17623, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    12. Stacy Berg Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2002. "Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1491-1527.
    13. Philip Babcock & Mindy Marks, 2011. "The Falling Time Cost of College: Evidence from Half a Century of Time Use Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 468-478, May.
    14. 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.
    15. Oreopoulos, Philip & Heisz, Andrew, 2006. "The Importance of Signalling in Job Placement and Promotion," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2006236e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    16. Dominic J. Brewer & Eric Eide & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1996. "Does It Pay To Attend An Elite Private College? Cross Cohort Evidence on the Effects of College Quality on Earnings," NBER Working Papers 5613, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Andrew M. Gill & Duane E. Leigh, 2003. "Do the Returns to Community Colleges Differ between Academic and Vocational Programs?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(1).
    18. 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.
    19. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
    20. Ofer Malamud & Abigail Wozniak, 2008. "The Impact of College Graduation on Geographic Mobility: Identifying Education Using Multiple Components of Vietnam Draft Risk," Working Papers 0811, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    21. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2009. "The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
    22. Dennis J. Aigner & Glen G. Cain, 1977. "Statistical Theories of Discrimination in Labor Markets," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 30(2), pages 175-187, January.
    23. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2006. "Estimating the Returns to College Quality with Multiple Proxies for Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 701-728, July.
    24. Sallee James M & Resch Alexandra M & Courant Paul N, 2008. "On the Optimal Allocation of Students and Resources in a System of Higher Education," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-26, June.
    25. George Psacharopoulos, 1974. "College Quality as a Screening Device?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 9(4), pages 556-558.
    26. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Suhonen, Tuomo, 2013. "Are there returns from university location in a state-funded university system?," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 465-478.
    2. Stacy B. Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2014. "Estimating the Effects of College Characteristics over the Career Using Administrative Earnings Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 49(2), pages 323-358.
    3. Eleanor Wiske Dillon & Jeffrey Andrew Smith, 2020. "The Consequences of Academic Match between Students and Colleges," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 55(3), pages 767-808.
    4. Douglas Coate, 2017. "Varsity Sports Participation, College Selectivity, and First Job in Investment Banking or Management Consulting in the US," Working Papers Rutgers University, Newark 2017-001, Department of Economics, Rutgers University, Newark.
    5. Lynne Pepall & Dan Richard, 2014. "Competition, Selectivity and Innovation in the Higher Educational Market," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0782, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    6. Eleanor Wiske Dillon & Jeffrey Smith, 2018. "The Consequences of Academic Match between Students and Colleges," Working Papers 2018-060, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    7. Gilbert E. Metcalf & James Stock, 2015. "The Role of Integrated Assessment Models in Climate Policy: A User's Guide and Assessment," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0811, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    8. Bacalhau, Priscilla & Mattos, Enlinson & Ponczek, Vladimir Pinheiro, 2019. "College quality signaling and individual performance: effects on labor market outcomes after graduation," Textos para discussão 502, FGV EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Fundação Getulio Vargas (Brazil).
    9. Arnaud Chevalier, 2014. "Does Higher Education Quality Matter in the UK?," Research in Labor Economics, in: Solomon W. Polachek & Konstantinos Tatsiramos (ed.),Factors Affecting Worker Well-being: The Impact of Change in the Labor Market, volume 40, pages 257-292, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    10. Stefano STAFFOLANI & Maria Cristina RECCHIONI, 2016. "Increasing Graduation and Calling for More Autonomy in Higher Education: Is It a Good Thing? A Theoretical Model," Working Papers 419, Universita' Politecnica delle Marche (I), Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Sociali.
    11. Weinstein, Russell, 2017. "University Selectivity, Initial Job Quality, and Longer-Run Salary," IZA Discussion Papers 10911, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    college graduates; signaling; school quality; grade point average;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:13-190. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/upjohus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.