This paper uses a college-by-graduate degree fixed effects estimator to evaluate the returns to 19 different graduate degrees for men and women. We find substantial variation across degrees, and evidence that OLS overestimates the returns to degrees with high average earnings and underestimates the returns to degrees with low average earnings. Second, we decompose the impacts on earnings into effects on wage rates and effects on hours. For most degrees, the earnings gains come from increased wage rates, though hours play an important role in some degrees, such as medicine, especially for women. Third, we estimate the net present value and internal rate of return for each degree, which account for the time and monetary costs of degrees. We show annual earnings and hours worked while enrolled in graduate school vary a lot by gender and degree. Finally, we provide descriptive evidence that gains in overall job satisfaction and satisfaction with contribution to society vary substantially across degrees.
This paper documents differences across higher education courses in the coverage of frontier knowledge. Applying natural language processing (NLP) techniques to the text of 1.7M syl- labi and 20M academic articles, we construct the “education-innovation gap,” a syllabus’s rel- ative proximity to old and new knowledge. We show that courses differ greatly in the extent to which they cover frontier knowledge. Instructors play a big role in shaping course content; instructors who are active researchers teach more frontier knowledge. More selective and bet- ter funded schools, and those enrolling socio-economically advantaged students, teach more frontier knowledge. Students from these schools are more likely to complete a doctoral degree, produce more patents, and earn more after graduation.
As children reach adolescence, peer interactions become increasingly central to their development, whereas the direct influence of parents wanes. Nevertheless, parents may continue to exert leverage by shaping their children's peer groups. We study interactions of parenting style and peer effects in a model where children's skill accumulation depends on both parental inputs and peers, and where parents can affect the peer group by restricting who their children can interact with. We estimate the model and show that it can capture empirical patterns regarding the interaction of peer characteristics, parental behavior, and skill accumulation among US high school students. We use the estimated model for policy simulations. We find that interventions (e.g., busing) that move children to a more favorable neighborhood have large effects but lose impact when they are scaled up because parents' equilibrium responses push against successful integration with the new peer group.