Explaining the evolution of educational attainment in the U.S.
Series/Report no.Cahier de recherche #2014-08
We study the evolution of educational attainment of the 1932–1972 cohorts using a calibrated model of investment in human capital with heterogeneous learning ability. The inter-cohort variation in schooling is driven by changes in skill prices, tuition, and education quality over time, and average learning ability across cohorts. A version of the model with static expectations is successful in accounting for the main patterns in the data. Rising skill prices for college explain the rapid increase in college graduation till the 1948 cohort. The measured decline in average learning ability contributes to explain the stagnation in college graduation between the 1948 and 1972 cohorts.