The Effect of Schooling and Ability on Achievement Test Scores

71 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2003

See all articles by Karsten T. Hansen

Karsten T. Hansen

Northwestern University - Department of Marketing

James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Kathleen J. Mullen

RAND Corporation

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2003

Abstract

This paper develops two methods for estimating the effect of schooling on achievement test scores that control for the endogeneity of schooling by postulating that both schooling and test scores are generated by a common unobserved latent ability. These methods are applied to data on schooling and test scores. Estimates from the two methods are in close agreement. We find that the effects of schooling on test scores are roughly linear across schooling levels. The effects of schooling on measured test scores are slightly larger for lower latent ability levels. We find that schooling increases the AFQT score on average between 2 and 4 percentage points, roughly twice as large as the effect claimed by Herrnstein and Murray (1994) but in agreement with estimates produced by Neal and Johnson (1996) and Winship and Korenman (1997). We extend the previous literature by estimating the impact of schooling on measured test scores at various quantiles of the latent ability distribution.

Keywords: Education, Ability, Latent Variables, Selection, MCMC

JEL Classification: C35, C15, I21

Suggested Citation

Hansen, Karsten T. and Heckman, James J. and Mullen, Kathleen J., The Effect of Schooling and Ability on Achievement Test Scores (July 2003). IZA Discussion Paper No. 826. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=434584

Karsten T. Hansen

Northwestern University - Department of Marketing ( email )

Kellogg School of Management
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Evanston, IL 60208
United States

James J. Heckman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Kathleen J. Mullen

RAND Corporation ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://works.bepress.com/kathleen_mullen

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