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Has the College Wage Premium Continued to Rise? Evidence from Multiple U.S. Surveys

Jared Ashworth () and Tyler Ransom ()
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Jared Ashworth: Pepperdine University

No 11657, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: This paper examines trends in the college wage premium (CWP) by birth cohort across the five major household surveys in the United States: the Census/ACS, CPS, NLSY, PSID, and SIPP. We document a flattening in the CWP for birth cohorts 1978 and onward in each survey and even a decline for birth cohorts 1980–1985 in the NLSY and SIPP. We discuss potential reasons for this finding and show that the empirical discrepancy is not a function of differences in composition across surveys. Our results provide crucial context for the vast economic literatures that use these surveys to measure returns to skill, and intertemporal changes in those returns.

Keywords: college wage premium; returns to education (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I26 J30 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 34 pages
Date: 2018-07
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Published in: Economics of Education Review, 2019, 69 (1), 149 -154.

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