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Abstract

How does the labor market reward the specific skills learned by college students? We use a novel data set that combines earnings, demographic and college transcript data for over 5,000 graduates of a large university to investigate how their skill development has been compensated during their experience in the labor market. Using student academic records to generate measures of skills acquisition in the areas of mathematics and communication, among others, we estimate the contribution of our skills acquisition measures to graduates’ later incomes. We find that, consistent with established literature, the significance of even broad categories of skills diminishes as controls are added, although female graduates experience significant returns to quantitative coursework. These results are robust to different specifications, including controlling for innate ability via proxy measures.

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