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Comparable estimates of returns to schooling around the world

Listed author(s):
  • Montenegro, Claudio E.
  • Patrinos, Harry Anthony

Rates of return to investments in schooling have been estimated since the late 1950s. In the 60-plus year history of such estimates, there have been several attempts to synthesize the empirical results to ascertain patterns. This paper presents comparable estimates, as well as a database, that use the same specification, estimation procedure, and similar data for 139 economies and 819 harmonized household surveys. This effort to compile comparable estimates holds constant the definition of the dependent variable, the set of control variables, the sample definition, and the estimation method for all surveys in the sample. The results of this study show that (1) the returns to schooling are more concentrated around their respective means than previously thought; (2) the basic Mincerian model used is more stable than may have been expected; (3) the returns to schooling are higher for women than for men; (4) returns to schooling and labor market experience are strongly and positively associated; (5) there is a decreasing pattern over time; and (6) the returns to tertiary education are highest.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 7020.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2014
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:7020
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  1. Esther Duflo, 2001. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 795-813, September.
  2. Ichino, Andrea & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 1999. "Lower and upper bounds of returns to schooling: An exercise in IV estimation with different instruments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 889-901, April.
  3. Alan B. Krueger, 1993. "How Computers Have Changed the Wage Structure: Evidence from Microdata, 1984–1989," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(1), pages 33-60.
  4. Garcia-Mainar, Inmaculada & Montuenga-Gomez, Victor M., 2005. "Education returns of wage earners and self-employed workers: Portugal vs. Spain," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 161-170, April.
  5. George Psacharopoulos & Harry Anthony Patrinos, 2004. "Returns to investment in education: a further update," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 111-134.
  6. Christopher Dougherty, 2005. "Why Are the Returns to Schooling Higher for Women than for Men?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 969-988.
  7. Harry Anthony Patrinos & Chris Sakellariou, 2006. "Economic volatility and returns to education in Venezuela: 1992-2002," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(17), pages 1991-2005.
  8. Goldin, Claudia & Polachek, Solomon, 1987. "Residual Differences by Sex: Perspectives on the Gender Gap in Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 143-151, May.
  9. Elizabeth M. King & Claudio E. Montenegro & Peter F. Orazem, 2012. "Economic Freedom, Human Rights, and the Returns to Human Capital: An Evaluation of the Schultz Hypothesis," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(1), pages 39-72.
  10. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong Wha, 2013. "A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 184-198.
  11. George Psacharopoulos & Richard Layard, 1979. "Human Capital and Earnings: British Evidence and a Critique," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(3), pages 485-503.
  12. World Bank, 2012. "World Development Report 2013
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    ," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 11843, April.
  13. Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek & Ian Walker, 2003. "The Returns to Education: Microeconomics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 115-156, April.
  14. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281-281.
  15. Barry R. Chiswick, 1988. "Differences in Education and Earnings Across Racial and Ethnic Groups: Tastes, Discrimination, and Investments in Child Quality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 571-597.
  16. World Bank, 2012. "World Development Report 2012," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 4391, April.
  17. Robert Jensen, 2010. "The (Perceived) Returns to Education and the Demand for Schooling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(2), pages 515-548.
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