Journal of Labor Research

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 277–305 | Cite as

Compulsory Schooling and Early Labor Market Outcomes in a Middle-Income Country

  • Huzeyfe TorunEmail author


The 1997 reform in Turkey which extended compulsory schooling from 5 to 8 years provides an opportunity to estimate the returns to schooling in a middle-income country. The availability of a rich set of early labor market variables also provides an opportunity to assess mechanisms through which returns to schooling occur. I find quite small effects of compulsory schooling on earnings of men but large positive effects on earnings of women who work, without raising their overall low rate of labor force participation. In terms of mechanisms, I find that women who worked moved into higher skill and formal sector jobs, which involved more complicated tasks on average.


Returns to education Compulsory schooling Occupational choice 

JEL Classification

I21 J24 J31 



I would like to thank to Sarah Turner, Leora Friedberg, and John Pepper. I also thank seminar participants at the University of Virginia and Southern Economic Association Conference. I am grateful to the editor and two anonymous referees for very useful suggestions and careful reading. I am also grateful to the University of Virginia’s Bankard Fund for financial support and the staff in the Labor Force Statistics Department of Turkish Statistical Institute for providing the supplementary data for Household Labor Force Survey.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

I have no potential conflict of interest that relate to the research described in this paper. Also the views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey.


  1. Angrist JD, Imbens GW (1995) Two-stage least squares estimation of average causal effects in models with variable treatment intensity. J Am Stat Assoc 90:431–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angrist JD, Krueger AB (1991) Does compulsory school attendance affect schooling and earnings? Q J Econ 106(4):979–1014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Angrist JD, Imbens GW, Rubin DB (1996) Identification of causal effects using instrumental variables. J Am Stat Assoc 91:444–455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aydemir A, Kirdar M (2013) Estimates of the return to schooling in a developing country: evidence from a major policy reform in Turkey. Working Paper no 51938. MPRAGoogle Scholar
  5. Becker GS (1967) Human capital and the personal distribution of income; an analytical approach. Institute of Public Administration, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  6. Card D (1999) The causal effect of education on earnings. Handbook of labor economics, vol 3, pp 1801–1863Google Scholar
  7. Cesur R, Mocan N (2014) Does secular education impact religiosity, electoral participation, and the propensity to vote for Islamic parties? Evidence from an education reform in a Muslim country. Working Paper no. 19769. National Bureau of Economic Research, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  8. Cesur R, Dursun B, Mocan N (2014) The impact of education health and health behavior in a middle income, low education country. Working Paper no. 20764. National Bureau of Economic Research, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  9. Devereux PJ, Hart RA (2009) Forced to be rich? Returns to compulsory schooling in Britain. Working Paper no. 2009/40. University College DublinGoogle Scholar
  10. Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) Revised Fourth Edition (1991) United States employment service, and the North Carolina occupational analysis field center. Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, Ann Arbor.
  11. Dulger I (2004) Case study on Turkey rapid coverage for compulsory education program. Paper presented at the Conference on Scaling up Poverty Reduction, Shanghai, ChinaGoogle Scholar
  12. Dursun B, Cesur R (2016) Transforming lives: the impact of compulsory schooling on hope and happiness. J Popul Econ 29(3):911–956CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dursun B, Cesur R, Kelly IR (2017) The value of mandating maternal education in a developing country. Louisiana State University Working PaperGoogle Scholar
  14. Erten B, Keskin P (2016) For better or for worse? Education and the prevalence of domestic violence in Turkey. Am Econ J Appl Econ ForthcomingGoogle Scholar
  15. Grenet J (2013) Is it enough to increase compulsory education to raise earnings? Evidence from French and British compulsory schooling laws. Scand J Econ 115(1):176–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gulesci S, Meyersson E (2014) ‘For the love of the republic’ education, secularism and empowerment in Turkey. Working Paper,
  17. Harmon C, Walker I (1995) Estimates of the economic return to schooling for the United Kingdom. Am Econ Rev 85(5):1278–1286Google Scholar
  18. Imbens GW, Angrist JD (1994) Identification and estimation of local average treatment effects. Econometrica 62(2):467–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kırdar MG, Koç İ, Tayfur MD (2016) The effect of compulsory schooling laws on teenage marriage and births in Turkey. Working Paper no 72119. MPRAGoogle Scholar
  20. Lochner L (2011) Non-production benefits of education: crime, health, and good citizenship. Working Paper no. 16722. National Bureau of Economic Research, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mocan L (2014) The impact of education on wages: analysis of an education reform in Turkey. Unpublished Working PaperGoogle Scholar
  22. O’Brien RM (2000) Age period cohort characteristics models. Soc Sci Res 29:123–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Oreopoulos P (2006a) Estimating average and local average treatment effects of education when compulsory schooling laws really matter. Am Econ Rev 96(1):152–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Oreopoulos P (2006b) The compelling effects of compulsory schooling: evidence from Canada. Can J Econ 39(1):22–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pischke JS, von Wachter T (2008) Zero returns to compulsory schooling in germany: evidence and interpretation. Rev Econ Stat 90(3):592–598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schultz TP (2002) Why governments should invest more to educate girls. World Dev 30(2):207–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Stephens M Jr, Yang D-Y (2012) Schooling laws, school quality, and the returns to schooling. Working Paper. University of MichiganGoogle Scholar
  28. Tansel A (2002) Determinants of school attainment of boys and girls in Turkey: individual, household, and community factors. Econ Educ Rev 21(5):455–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tsai W-J, Liu J-T, Chou S-Y, Thornton R (2009) Does educational expansion encourage female workforce participation? A study of the 1968 reform in Taiwan. Econ Educ Rev 28(6):750–758CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central Bank of the Republic of TurkeyAnkaraTurkey

Personalised recommendations