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Compulsory Schooling and Returns to Education: A Re-Examination

SOAS University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK
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Econometrics 2019, 7(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/econometrics7030036
Received: 25 May 2019 / Revised: 22 July 2019 / Accepted: 29 August 2019 / Published: 2 September 2019
This paper re-examines the instrumental variable (IV) approach to estimating returns to education by use of compulsory school law (CSL) in the US. We show that the IV-approach amounts to a change in model specification by changing the causal status of the variable of interest. From this perspective, the IV-OLS (ordinary least square) choice becomes a model selection issue between non-nested models and is hence testable using cross validation methods. It also enables us to unravel several logic flaws in the conceptualisation of IV-based models. Using the causal chain model specification approach, we overcome these flaws by carefully distinguishing returns to education from the treatment effect of CSL. We find relatively robust estimates for the first effect, while estimates for the second effect are hindered by measurement errors in the CSL indicators. We find reassurance of our approach from fundamental theories in statistical learning. View Full-Text
Keywords: instrumental variables; randomisation; research design; average return to education instrumental variables; randomisation; research design; average return to education
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van Huellen, S.; Qin, D. Compulsory Schooling and Returns to Education: A Re-Examination. Econometrics 2019, 7, 36.

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