Egalitarianism and the Returns to Education during the Great Transformation of American Education
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CitationGoldin, Claudia. 1999. Egalitarianism and the returns to education during the great transformation of American education. Journal of Political Economy 107(6): S65-S94.
AbstractSecondary school education greatly expanded in the United States from 1910 to 1940, setting its schooling attainment apart from that of all other countries. Barely 10 percent of youth were high school graduates in 1910, but by the mid 1930s the median youth had a high school diploma. In some regions, by the 1930s enrollment and graduation rates rose to levels that were as high as they would be two decades later. The issue addressed here concerns the economic impact of the large increase in the supply of educated labor. Evidence is presented concerning the sharp decline in the wage premium to ordinary white‐collar workers. With the expansion of the high school, large numbers of Americans competed for positions in the coveted white‐collar sector. Although the return to a year of high school remained considerable on the eve of World War II, egalitarianism had evened the playing field for a substantial segment of Americans.
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