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Getting Lucky: The Long-Term Consequences of Exam Luck

Fanny Landaud, Eric Maurin (), Barton Willage () and Alexander L.P. Willén

No 9570, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo

Abstract: This paper studies the impact of exam luck on individuals’ education and labor market success. We leverage unique features of the Norwegian education system that produce random variation in the content of the exams taken by students at the end of high school. Lucky students take exams in subjects they are better at, and we show that this generates significant improvements in both their high school GPA and diploma probability. Subsequently, exam luck generates substantial and persistent wage differentials across otherwise identical individuals. These luck-induced wage effects are of a similar magnitude as those generated by well-known education inputs, such as parental education and teacher quality.

Keywords: luck; fairness; wage differentials; returns to education; high-stakes exams (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D63 H52 I21 I23 I24 I26 J24 J31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu, nep-eur and nep-ure
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