Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Trends in the skills of American youth and assessing relative gains among different groups
by Chun, Natalie Lea, Ph.D., Stanford University, 2009, 130; 3382934
Abstract (Summary)

The three chapters of this dissertation are intended to provide a more complete picture of the overall landscape of cognitive skills and how skill level factors into the military enlistment decision. These studies use data on individuals from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the Profile of American Youth who were administered the ASVAB test providing a way to measure occupational cognitive skills at the national level. In the first chapter we investigate the extent to which cognitive skills differ between race and gender groups. In the second chapter we examine how cognitive skills have changed over time. Specifically we look at changes in cognitive skill within racial/ethic groups and education groups. The third chapter provides an analysis to describe how the skill level of military enlistees compares to the general population.

Both cross-sectional and quantile regression analysis is used to examine cognitive skills and cognitive skill changes. We find that while improvements have occurred, there are still large racial/ethnic gaps in cognitive skills. In the examination of the cognitive skill level of military enlistees, a dynamic and static approach based on the panel nature of the data is used to investigate how the enlistment decision and the choice of enlisting in the military compares to other options based on an individual's skill level. The analysis finds that military enlistees tend to have a higher level of skill relative to the general population. Still, there are a disproportionate share of minorities in the military and the skill level of enlistees is substantially lower compared to two decades prior. These findings provide evidence that there is the need for further development and improvement in policies that can help to mitigate the differences in cognitive skills and military enlistment between minority populations with the population at large.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: MaCurdy, Thomas
School: Stanford University
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 70/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economics, Economics, Military studies
Keywords: Cognitive skills, Education, Ethnicity, Human capital, Military, Race, Test scores
Publication Number: 3382934
ISBN: 978-1-109-45011-8
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