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Selected Substantive Papers

Empirical papers written collaboratively with colleagues are listed here in reverse chronological order and can be downloaded by clicking on their titles. I have grouped them loosely, by substantive area:

I. High-school Dropout, Obtaining a GED, Post-HS Training (Back to top)

Uribe, C., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2004). Why do students learn more in some classrooms than in others? Evidence from Bogotá. HGSE Working Paper.

Using a unique data set providing longitudinal achievement data on a large sample of students who attended public or private elementary schools in Bogotá, Colombia, we examine the roles of teacher quality, class size, peer groups, and governance structure in predicting why, net of family background and prior achievement, the average achievement of children in some classrooms is higher than that of children in other classrooms.

Murnane, R. J., Willett, J. B., Braatz, M. J., & Duhaldebord, Y. (2001). Do Different Dimensions of Male High School Students' Skills Predict Labor Market Success a Decade Later? Evidence from the NLSY. Economics of Education Review, 20(4), 311-320.

Uses NLSY data to examine whether measures of the skills of male teenagers predict their wages at ages 27 and 28. The effects of three types of skills are examined: academic skills, skill at completing elementary mental tasks quickly and accurately, and self-esteem. The results show that all three types of skills play roles in predicting subsequent wages but the different skills are of differing importance in explaining gaps between the average wages of White males and those of Black and Hispanic males.

Murnane, R. J., Willett, J. B., Duhaldebord, Y., & Tyler, J. H. (2000). How Important Are the Cognitive Skills of Teenagers in Predicting Subsequent Earnings? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 19(4), 547-568.

Uses two longitudinal datasets from the mid-1980s and early 1990s (NLS72 and HS&B) to investigate how important teenagers' cognitive skills are in predicting subsequent labor-market success. The paper shows that the same evidence can be used to support the claim that cognitive skills are important determinants of subsequent earnings, and that the effect of cognitive skills is modest. It also shows that while some evidence indicates that college pays off more for students who enter with strong cognitive skills than for students who enter with weaker skills, the bulk of the evidence does not support this conclusion.

Boudett, K. P., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2000). "Second-Chance" Strategies for Women Who Drop Out of School. Monthly Labor Review, 123(12),19-31.

Uses NLSY data to investigate the educational opportunities pursued by young women who drop out of high school. All of the educational investments enhance earned income markedly but, for the average woman, the increase in earnings is not enough to lift a family out of poverty.

Murnane, R. J., Willett, J. B., & Tyler, J. H. (2000). Who Benefits From Obtaining A GED? Evidence From High School and Beyond. Review of Economics and Statistics, 82(1), 23-37.

Examines the value of the GED credential and the conventional high-school diploma in explaining the earnings of 27-year-old males in the early 1990s, using the HS&B Sophomore cohort. The findings of prior studies, which assume that the labor market value of the GED credential does not depend on the skills with which dropouts left school, are replicated. However, these average effects are shown to mask a more complicated pattern -- obtaining a GED is associated with higher earnings at age 27 for those male dropouts who had very weak cognitive skills as 10th graders, but not for those who had stronger cognitive skills.

Tyler, J. H., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2000). Do the Cognitive Skills of School Dropouts Matter in the Labor Market. Journal of Human Resources, Communications, 35(4), 748-754.

Explores whether the labor market rewards cognitive skill differences among high-school dropouts, using a dataset that provides information on the universe of dropouts who last attempted the GED examinations in Florida and New York in 1989 and 1990. Results indicate substantial earnings returns to cognitive skills for all groups except White male dropouts.

Tyler, J. H., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2000). Estimating the Labor Market Signaling Value of the GED. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(2), 431-468.

This paper tests the labor market signaling hypothesis for the General Educational Development (GED) equivalency credential. Using a unique data set containing GED test scores and Social Security Administration (SSA) earnings data, we exploit variation in GED status generated by differential state GED passing standards to identify the signaling value of the GED, net of human capital effects. Our results indicate that the GED signal increases the earnings of young white dropouts by 10 to 19 percent. We find no statistically significant effects for minority dropouts.

Murnane, R. J., Willett, J. B., & Boudett, K. P. (1999). Do Male Dropouts Benefit From Obtaining a GED, Postsecondary Education, and Training, Evaluation Review, 23(5), 475-502.

Uses longitudinal data from the NLSY to investigate whether the wage trajectories of male high school dropouts are affected by the acquisition of the GED, by postsecondary education and by training. We find that acquisition of the GED results in wage increases for dropouts who left school with weak skills, but not for dropouts who left high school with stronger skills. College and training provided by employers are assocatiated with higher wages for male dropouts.

Murnane, R. J., Willett, J. B., & Boudett, K. P. (1997). Does a GED Lead To More Training, Post-Secondary Education, and Military Service For School Dropouts?, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 51(1), 100-116.

Uses longitudinal data from the NLSY to investigate how school dropouts' acquisition of a GED affected the probability that they would obtain training, post-secondary education, or military service. We use longitudinal data to estimate prototypical training and education profiles, and find that the probability that a dropout participated in post-secondary education or non-company training was greater after GED receipt than before, for both men and women. Still, less than half of GED recipients received post-secondary education or training by age-26.

Murnane, R. J., Willett, J. B., & Boudett, K. P. (1995). Do High-School Dropouts Benefit From Obtaining a GED?, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 17(2), 133-147.

Uses longitudinal NLSY data to study whether male high-school dropouts' trajectories of wages, annual number of hours worked, and annual earnings are affected by acquisition of the GED credential. We find that acquisition of the GED is associated with an increase in the rate of wage growth. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that some dropouts, after obtaining a GED, search for a better paying job or enter a training program.

 

II. Teacher Careers (Back to top)

Vegas, E., Murnane, R. J., & Willett, J. B. (2001). From High School to Teaching: Many Steps, Who Makes It? Teachers College Record, 103(3), 427-449.

Uses the sophomore cohort of HS&B to investigate the roles that race, ethnicity, and academic skills play in predicting whether high-school students persist along each of the various steps of the path into teaching. We show that the challenge of creating a racially and ethnically diverse teaching force is not primarily one of influencing the occupational decisions of minority college graduates. Instead, the critical challenge is to increase the high-school graduation, college enrollment and college graduation rates of minority youth.

Willett, J. B. & Singer, J. D., (1989). Two Types of Question About Time: Methodological Issues in the Analysis of Teacher Career Path Data. International Journal of Educational Research, 13(4), 421-437.

We use median-detrends and schematic plots to detect and document an influence on the duration of teacher employment which has heretofore eluded empirical quantification -- the involuntary layoff. Using data on the lengths of employment of about 14,000 teachers hired between 1969 and 1981 in St. Louis, we show that over and above the effects that previous researchers have identified, there were certain years in which many more recently hired teachers were likely to leave their districts thatn might have been expected.

Murnane, R. J., Singer, J. D., & Willett, J. B. (1989). The Influences of Salaries and "Opportunity Costs" on Teachers' Career Choices: Evidence from North Carolina. Harvard Educational Review, 59(3), 325-346.

Investigation of the career paths of White Teachers in North Carolina who were first hired between 1976 and 1979. Using discrete-time hazards-modeling, we explore the relationship between the risk of leaving teaching and teacher salary and opportunity cost. We discuss implications of the findings for policy and teacher supply.

Singer, J. D., & Willett, J. B. (1988). Detecting Involuntary Layoffs in Teacher Survival Data: The Year of Leaving Dangerously. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 10(3), 212-224.

We use median-detrends and schematic plots to detect and document an influence on the duration of teacher employment which has heretofore eluded empirical quantification -- the involuntary layoff. Using data on the lengths of employment of about 14,000 teachers hired between 1969 and 1981 in St. Louis, we show that over and above the effects that previous researchers have identified, there were certain years in which many more recently hired teachers were likely to leave their districts thatn might have been expected.

Murnane, R. J., Singer, J. D., & Willett, J. B. (1988). The Career Paths of Teachers: Implications for Teacher Supply and Methodological Lessons for Research. Educational Researcher, Aug-Sept, 22-30.

Attempts to determine whether enough qualified teachers will be available to staff the nation's schools in the coming years have been hampered by methodological difficulties that are inherent in the study of teacher career patterns, using proportional hazards modeling. We find that teacher demographic characteristics and subject specialty are important predictors of the length of stay in teaching. The results call into question several assumptions about teacher career persistence implicit in the national teacher supply and demand model.

Murnane, R. J., Singer, J. D., & Willett, J. B. (1987). Changes in Teacher Salaries During the 1970s: The Role of School District Demographics. Economics of Education Review, 6(4), 379-388.

Analyzes changes in teacher salary schedules of Michigan school districts between 1970 and 1980. We find that starting salaries, expressed in 1970 dollars, decreased by an average of 20% over the decade. Real maximum salaries decreased by 15%. The between-district variablity of starting salaries also increased markedly over the decade, making the average starting salary a much poorer estimate of the starting salary a particular teacher earned in 1980 than in 1970. The between-district variability of maximum salaries did not increase over the decade.

 

III. Medicine and Psychology, Psychiatry (Back to top)

Lenzenweger, M. F., Johnson, M. D. and Willett, J. B. (2004). Individual Growth Curve Analysis Illuminates Stability And Change In Personality Disorder Features: The Longitudinal Study Of Personality Disorders. Archives of General Psychiatry, 61, 1015-1024.

Investigation of stability and change in personality disorders from an individual growth curve perspective. The PD features of 250 subjects were examined at 3 different time points using the International Personality Disorders Examination over a 4-year period. The study provides compelling evidence of change in PD features over time, and does not support the assumption that PD features are traitlike, enduring, and stable over time.

 

 

 

 

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Page last updated: May 31, 2005

 

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