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One Size does not Fit All: Multiple Dimensions of Ability, College Attendance and Wages

María F. Prada, Sergio S. Urzúa

NBER Working Paper No. 20752
Issued in December 2014
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Labor Studies

We investigate the role of mechanical ability as another dimension that, jointly with cognitive and socio-emotional, affects schooling decisions and labor market outcomes. Using a Roy model with a factor structure and data from the NLSY79, we show that the labor market positively rewards mechanical ability. However, in contrast to the other dimensions, mechanical ability reduces the likelihood of attending four-year college. We find that, on average, for individuals with high levels of mechanical and low levels of cognitive and socio-emotional ability, not attending four-year college is the alternative associated with the highest hourly wage (ages 25-30).

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20752

Published: María F. Prada & Sergio Urzúa, 2017. "One Size Does Not Fit All: Multiple Dimensions of Ability, College Attendance, and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, vol 35(4), pages 953-991.

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