The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 68–86 | Cite as

Postschool education and training: Accessible to all?

  • Arvil V. Adams
  • Stephen L. Mangum
  • Philip W. Wirtz


This article examines knowledge and skill development during early adulthood when the individual has severed ties with formal education and entered the world of work. Focusing on a cohort of young men from the National Longitudinal Surveys, the paper examines the economic and social forces influencing participation in various forms of postschool education and training. A recursive model is used to explore skill development patterns over the lifecycle. Attention is focused on the role of early human capital development and its influence on the cost and incentives for subsequent skill development in the adult working years. The findings point to the cumulative nature of skill development over the lifecycle with some important implications for efforts to reduce economic and social inequalities for blacks and whites.


Human Capital Skill Development National Longitudinal Survey Recursive Model Additional Skill 
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  1. 1a.
    These institutions and adult participants are described in Bryan S. Fraser, “The Structure of Adult Learning, Education and Training Opportunity in the United States” (Washington, D.C.: National Institute for Work and Learning, 1980)Google Scholar
  2. 1b.
    Patricia Cross,Adults as Learners (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1981).Google Scholar
  3. 2a.
    This conclusion is found in Mark Blaug, “Human Capital Theory: A Slightly Jaundiced Survey,”Journal of Economic Literature, vol. 14, no. 3, September 1976, p. 832Google Scholar
  4. 2b.
    Mary Jane Bowman, “Out of School Formation of Human Resources,” D.M. Windham (ed.),Economic Dimensions of Education, (Washington, D.C.,: National Academy of Education, 1979), p. 141.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Arvil V. Adams and Stephen L. Mangum,“ Post-School Occupational Training and the Private Sector,”Thirty-Seventh Annual Proceedings of the Industrial Relations Research Association, December 1984.Google Scholar
  6. 4.
    See, for example, Richard Freeman, “Occupational Training in Proprietary Schools and Technical Institutes,”Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 56, August 1974.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports,School Enrollment—Social and Economic Characteristics of Students: October 1984, Series P-20, #404, November 1985.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    National Center for Education Statistics,The Condition of Education (Washington, D.C: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1985), p. 122.Google Scholar
  9. 7a.
    The participation examined is that offered in a formal institutional setting for the purposes of developing occupational skills. The paper does not attempt to explain skill development in informal settings, including that on the job, which doubtless accounts for a substantial amount of knowledge and skill development beyond formal schooling. See Jacob Mincer,School, Experience and Earnings (New York: Columbia University Press, 1974), pp. 7–23;Google Scholar
  10. 7b.
    Sherwin Rosen, “Learning and Experience in the Labor Market,”Journal of Human Resources, vol. 7, 1972, pp,. 342–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 8.
    As explained in Burton Weisbrod, “Education and Investment in Human Cap ital,”Journal of Political Economy, vol. 52, supplement, October 1962, pp. 109–113. The option value of early schooling derives from the opportunities for additional education and training created by the initial schooling experience.Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    For exposure to some of the issues surrounding JTPA, such as that of “ creaming” see, Gary Walker et al., “An Independent Sector Assessment of the Job Training Partnership Act” (New York: Grinker, Walker and Associates, January, 1985); John M. Jeffries and Howard Stanback,“ Employment and Training Policy for Black America: Beyond Placebo to Progressive Public Policy,”Review of Black Political Economy, Fall 1984; and James Bovard,“ Son of CETA,”New Republic, April 14, 1986.Google Scholar
  13. 10.
    This perspective is developed in Gary Becker,Human Capital, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1975), pp. 71–80 and Jacob Mincer, “The Distribution of Labor Incomes: A Survey with Special Reference to the Human Capital Approach,”Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. 13, No., March 1970, pp. 6–21. An assessment of this perspective is found in Sherwin Rosen,“ Human Capital: A Survey of Empirical Research,” in R.G. Ehrenberg (ed.),Research in Labor Economics, vol. I (Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1977).Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    These cohorts are described inThe National Longitudinal Surveys Handbook (Columbus, Ohio: Center for Human Resource Research, 1981).Google Scholar
  15. 12.
    Respondents were asked in each survey about their participation in formal occupational training since the previous survey. Those responding in the affirmative were asked about the occupational type, institutional source, and duration of the training experience. Some institutional sources of this training included business colleges, technical institutes, company training programs, correspondence courses, high schools (including night schools), area vocational schools, community and four-year colleges, the armed forces, apprenticeship programs and various community agencies such as churches and YMCAs.Google Scholar
  16. 13.
    The cost of producing additional knowledge and skills is determined by the opportunity cost of the resources used in producing these skills and the manner in which they are combined in the human capital production function.Google Scholar
  17. 14.
    Mincer (1970, p. 11, note 7 above). From an institutional perspective, early knowledge and skill development may influence the acquisition of job search skills making individuals more aware of the training opportunities at their disposal. As such, early education and training may be linked to increased aspirations and knowledge of the world of work. In addition, early skill development may provide the credentials necessary to gain access to subsequent training. Through this development, individuals are able to differentiate themselves from others and filter through screening devices imposed to limit the size of applicant queues.Google Scholar
  18. 15.
    This is presented in the human capital literature as the“ neutrality hypothesis.” See Bowman (1979, pp. 150–151, note 2 above). The limited evidence available views human capital as enhancing the incentive to acquire additional knowledge and skills. See Arvil V. Adams,“ The Stock of Human Capital and Differences in Post-School Formal Occupational Training for Middle-Aged Men,”Southern Economic Journal, vol. 44, April, 1978, pp. 929-936 and Charles B. Knapp,“ Education and Differences in Postschool Human Investment,”Economic Inquiry, Vol. 15, 2, 1977, pp. 283-289. For a different view, however, see Yoram Ben-Porath,“ The Production of Human Capital Over Time,” in W.L. Hansen (ed.),Education, Income and Human Capital (New York: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1970), pp. 129-147.Google Scholar
  19. 16.
    This construction of the model in recursive form permits one to trace the paths by which early background characteristics influence knowledge and skill development over the lifecycle. The influence of these characteristics on early patterns of knowledge and skill development and the relation of these patterns to those at later stages of the lifecycle can be explored in this framework. The properties of recursive models are more fully described in J. Johnston,Econometric Methods (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1972).Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    As is customary with recursive models, the residuals of each equation are assumed to be independent of one another allowing estimation with ordinary least squares. Probit estimates of the second and third equations with their dichotomous dependent variables are consistent with and very similar to those presented here based on ordinary least squares. The reader is warned that ordinary least squares with dummy dependent variables implies that standard tests of significance do not apply since the error term is no longer normally distributed.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arvil V. Adams
  • Stephen L. Mangum
  • Philip W. Wirtz

There are no affiliations available

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