Rachel Baker, Eric Bettinger, Brian A. Jacob, Ioana Marinescu, 11 May 2017

As low- and middle-skill jobs disappear from the labour market, a major policy objective is to help students gear their education towards higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs. This column examines how aware US college students are of differing salaries and job prospects, and how they influence the choice of degree major. Earning potential and job prospects appear less important than enjoyment of and proficiency in a subject, possibly reflecting that students feel underinformed about the salaries and job status of alumni from their college.

Ioana Marinescu, 20 February 2017

Different degrees have different pays and job opportunities. Ioana Marinescu presents her research on community college students and on helping them make informed decisions about their majors. This video was recorded at the American Economic Association in Chicago in January 2017.

Ghazala Azmat, Rosa Ferrer, 12 July 2016

Gender gaps in earnings exist in high-skill industries despite male and female workers having similar educational backgrounds. This column uses evidence from the legal industry to assess how performance affects career outcomes across genders. Performance gaps, defined by hours billed and new revenue raised, explain a substantial share of the gender gaps in earnings, as women’s working hours are affected by having young children while those of men are not. An important implication is that gender-based inequality in earnings and career outcomes might not decrease in the near future as more high-skilled workers are explicitly compensated based on performance. 

Guglielmo Barone, Sauro Mocetti, 17 May 2016

Societies characterised by a high transmission of socioeconomic status across generations are not only more likely to be perceived as ‘unfair’, they may also be less efficient as they waste the skills of those coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. Existing evidence suggests that the related earnings advantages disappear after several generations. This column challenges this view by comparing tax records for family dynasties (identified by surname) in Florence, Italy in 1427 and 2011. The top earners among the current taxpayers were found to have already been at the top of the socioeconomic ladder six centuries ago. This persistence is identified despite the huge political, demographic, and economic upheavals that occurred between the two dates. 

Peng Xu, 03 August 2015

Corporate Japan is known for avoiding uncertainty. This is one of the reasons why changes of any kind are difficult – but not impossible – to realise. This column employs firm data to show that foreign direct investment has been changing corporate Japan by pursuing risk taking in private Japanese firms. This risk taking is positively related to firms’ sales growth and corporate earnings.

Manudeep Bhuller, Magne Mogstad, Kjell Salvanes, 22 September 2014

The impact of education on earnings over the life cycle is a critical factor for policy decisions ranging from education to taxation and pensions. This column exploits a unique Norwegian population panel data set to estimate an internal rate of return to additional schooling of about 10%. The standard Mincer-regression approach is also shown to substantially underestimate schooling’s rate of return.