Individual heterogeneity in the returns to schooling: instrumental variables quantile regression using twins data
- Cite this article as:
- Arias, O., Hallock, K. & Sosa-Escudero, W. Empirical Economics (2001) 26: 7. doi:10.1007/s001810000053
Considerable effort has been exercised in estimating mean returns to education while carefully considering biases arising from unmeasured ability and measurement error. Recent work has investigated whether there are variations from the “mean” return to education across the population with mixed results. We use an instrumental variables estimator for quantile regression on a sample of twins to estimate an entire family of returns to education at different quantiles of the conditional distribution of wages while addressing simultaneity and measurement error biases. We test whether there is individual heterogeneity in returns to education and find that: more able individuals obtain more schooling perhaps due to lower marginal costs and/or higher marginal benefits of schooling and that higher ability individuals (those further to the right in the conditional distribution of wages) have higher returns to schooling consistent with a non-trivial interaction between schooling and unobserved abilities in the generation of earnings. The estimated returns are never lower than 9 percent and can be as high as 13 percent at the top of the conditional distribution of wages but they vary significantly only along the lower to middle quantiles. Our findings may have meaningful implications for the design of educational policies.