College graduates earned roughly 67% more per hour than high school graduates in the US in 2010. Those with more education earn more because the world of work measures in some manner that they are simply more productive in dollars and cents terms. Some signaling theory advocates argue that if the return to education were due to learning, then the returns should be smoothly proportional to the time spent in school. However, researchers have detected a larger jump in earnings for those who complete the final year of college. Whether different schools return differently is an extension of the learning vs. signaling debate. A study analyzed the education and work histories of identical and nonidentical female twins, including educational quality. They found that students' aptitude was itself a cause of later workplace success, but not the only cause. In the end, they found estimates of higher earnings later in life produced by higher-quality schooling.
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Hallock, Kevin F. 2011. "Does More Education Cause Higher Earnings?" Workspan 54 (10) (10): 12-13.