Labor Market Effects of School Quality: Theory and Evidence

David Card, Alan B. Krueger

NBER Working Paper No. 5450
Issued in February 1996
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

This paper presents an overview and interpretation of the literature relating school quality to students' subsequent labor market success. We begin with a simple theoretical model that describes the determination of schooling and earnings with varying school quality. A key insight of the model is that changes in school quality may affect the characteristics of individuals who choose each level of schooling, imparting a potential selection bias to comparisons of earnings conditional on education. We then summarize the literature that relates school resources to students' earnings and educational attainment. A variety of evidence suggests that students who were educated in schools with more resources tend to earn more and have higher schooling. We also discuss two important issues in the literature: the tradeoffs involved in using school-level versus more aggregated (district or state-level) quality measures; and the evidence on school quality effects for African Americans educated in the segregated school systems of the South.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5450

Published: in Gary Burtless (ed.), Does Money Matter? The Link Between Schools, Student Achievement and Adult Success,(Washington, DC: Brookings Institute, 1996)pp.97-140.(With David Card).

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