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Explaining the Evolution of Educational Attainment in the U.S

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Abstract

We study the evolution of educational attainment of the 1932–1972 cohorts using a human capital investment model with heterogeneous learning ability. Inter-cohort variation in schooling is driven by changes in skill prices, tuition, and education quality over time, and average learning ability across cohorts. Under static expectations the model accounts for the main empirical patterns. Rising skill prices for college explain the rapid increase in college graduation till the 1948 cohort. The decline in average learning ability, calibrated to match the evolution of test scores, explains half of the stagnation in college graduation between the 1948 and 1972 cohorts.

Suggested Citation

  • Rui Castro & Daniele Coen-Pirani, 2015. "Explaining the Evolution of Educational Attainment in the U.S," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20155, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwo:hcuwoc:20155
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    File URL: https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1106&context=economicscibc
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    1. Thomas Lemieux & David Card, 2001. "Going to College to Avoid the Draft: The Unintended Legacy of the Vietnam War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 97-102, May.
    2. Joshua D. Angrist & Stacey H. Chen, 2011. "Schooling and the Vietnam-Era GI Bill: Evidence from the Draft Lottery," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 96-118, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Delalibera, Bruno Ricardo & Ferreira, Pedro Cavalcanti, 2019. "Early childhood education and economic growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 82-104.
    2. Keller, Elisa, 2014. "The slowdown in American educational attainment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 252-270.
    3. Ferreira, Pedro Cavalcanti & Delalibera, Bruno Ricardo, 2016. "Economic growth and complementarity between stages of human capital," FGV EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 779, EPGE Brazilian School of Economics and Finance - FGV EPGE (Brazil).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Educational Attainment; Human Capital; Skill Prices; Inequality; Cohorts;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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