The Impact of Community College Retraining on Older Displaced Workers: Should We Teach Old Dogs New Tricks?
The authors estimate the returns to retraining for older displaced workers— those 35 or older—by estimating the impact of community college schooling on earnings. The analysis relies on longitudinal administrative records covering workers displaced from jobs in Washington State during the early 1990s. The authors find that older displaced workers participated in community college schooling at lower rates than younger workers. Among those who participated, however, the impact on quarterly earnings was similar across the two age groups. One academic year of community college schooling is estimated to have increased long-term earnings by about 7% for older men and by about 10% for older women. Although these percentages are consistent with those reported in the schooling literature, estimates of the social internal rates of return from this retraining may differ substantially among older and younger workers because of differences in their work lives and their opportunity costs of retraining.