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Tracking the Returns to Education in the Nineties: Bridging the Gap Between the New and Old CPS Education Items

Jay Stewart and Harley Frazis


The Current Population Survey (CPS) is used for many studies examining trends in the returns to education. The CPS changed its education item in 1992. This paper develops adjustment factors for earnings at different education levels to make pre- and post-1992 earnings comparable. To accomplish this, contradictory results from 1991 and 1992 data are analyzed and reconciled. Adjusted 1989-93 earnings show a much more moderate increase in the returns to college graduation over the period than unadjusted earnings.