Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Complex Finding about SATs, College, and Earnings

An update of a paper by Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger is rather fascinating. As Robin Hanson notes:

attending a college with higher SAT scores clearly lowered the wages of women 17-26 years after starting college (in 1976) — a school with a 100-point higher average SAT score reduced earnings by about 6-7%! ...
One obvious explanation is that women at more elite colleges married richer classmate men, and so felt less need to earn money themselves. Why don’t the study’s authors want us to hear about that?

Hmmm. No one talks about that going on, but I have noticed that going on quite a bit. At my gym the childcare has a woman there who went to Northwestern's B-school, which is usually in the top-5. She decided to be a full time mom, and so does that just to break up the day. My wife did it for a while--she too is a college graduate who doesn't work outside the home. I think most women would prefer this option if they could (note: most merely means >50%).

Steve Sailer jumped on a different finding:

the finding that the average SAT score of the highest ranked school that rejected a student is a much stronger predictor of that student’s subsequent earnings than the average SAT score of the school the student actually attended should give pause to those who interpret conventional regression-based estimates of the effect of college characteristics as causal effects of the colleges themselves. ..

So, 'plausible chutzpah' is more important than actual grades. Again, that makes sense to me. Very interesting dynamics.


  1. The second finding makes perfect sense to me though. I got rejected from every school I applied to except Kalamazoo College (rejected by Boston College, Harvard, University of Michigan). That chip on the olde shoulder is valuable maybe.

  2. Anonymous4:50 PM

    Dude, I got rejected by Harvard, Princeton, and MIT (somehow got into Caltech) and my professional life is an abject failure, so knowing this second statistic makes me feel even worse about myself.

  3. As a female MBA from the UoC with 2 kids who makes more than her hubby, I concur with the observations. Bertrand found labor force contribution of female MBAs was related to spousal earnings ( "The dynamic impact of a first birth on
    women’s labor market outcomes greatly depends on spousal income. New MBA mothers with
    higher-earnings spouses reduce their labor supply considerably more than mothers with lower earnings
    spouses. In fact, the first birth has only a modest and temporary impact on earnings for
    MBA women with lower-earnings spouses."

  4. Anecdotal disclaimer applies but my significant other is a Wellesley graduate and hence has a fairly extensive network of what I'm sure were impressive SAT-scoring friends. I have found them to be overwhelmingly more likely to go to work for non-profit organizations or public policy outlets. I have always attributed this in part to many of them coming from considerable means that allowed for a focus away from compensation-focused job hunting.

    With your thoughts in mind, however, I think almost all of them are dating/engaged to/married to ivy league graduates. I hadn't noticed that before. I will have to tell my girlfriend that dating me (a state-school graduate) is likely to net her greater earnings when she's finally done with law school this year.

    Thanks for that.