Social Identity

Belief Formation of the Returns to Schooling and How to De-Bias Incorrect Beliefs

  • Blog Post Date 31 March, 2012
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James Berry

Cornell University

jimberry@cornell.edu

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Lucas Coffman

Ohio State University

This project investigates how poor households in rural and urban Rajasthan form beliefs about the value of additional years of schooling. Previous studies have documented that poor populations in developing nations hold downwardly biased beliefs about the returns to schooling; they do not think schooling is as valuable as it actually is. It has been shown that providing correct beliefs about average wages for adults with high levels of schooling can significantly and substantially increase schooling attainment. Using a survey with 402 households in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan, India, the researchers are able to gain some preliminary insights into the complicated process of subjective belief formation about the returns to schooling. This project aims to understand how such interventions can be made more effective by understanding the source of the original bias.

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