Training, Wages, and Sample Selection: Estimating Sharp Bounds on Treatment Effects

David S. Lee

NBER Working Paper No. 11721
Issued in October 2005
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper empirically assesses the wage effects of the Job Corps program, one of the largest federally-funded job training programs in the United States. Even with the aid of a randomized experiment, the impact of a training program on wages is difficult to study because of sample selection, a pervasive problem in applied micro-econometric research. Wage rates are only observed for those who are employed, and employment status itself may be affected by the training program. This paper develops an intuitive trimming procedure for bounding average treatment effects in the presence of sample selection. In contrast to existing methods, the procedure requires neither exclusion restrictions nor a bounded support for the outcome of interest. Identification results, estimators, and their asymptotic distribution, are presented. The bounds suggest that the program raised wages, consistent with the notion that the Job Corps raises earnings by increasing human capital, rather than solely through encouraging work. The estimator is generally applicable to typical treatment evaluation problems in which there is non-random sample selection/attrition.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w11721

Published: Lee, David. “Training, Wages, and Sample Selection: Estimating Sharp Bounds on Treatment Effects.” Review of Economic Studies 76(3), 1071-1102. 2009

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