This paper estimates the causal effect of vocational high school (VHS) education on employment likeli-hood relative to general high school (GHS) education in Turkey using census data. To address non-random selection into high school types, we collect construction dates of the VHSs at the town-level and use VHS availability in the town by age 13 as an instrumental variable. The first-stage estimates suggest that the availability of VHS does not affect the overall high school graduation rates, but gener-ates a substitution from GHS to VHS. The OLS estimates yield the result that the individuals with a VHS degree are around 5 percentage points more likely to be employed compared to those with a GHS de-gree. When we use the availability of VHS as an instrumental variable, we still find positive and statisti-cally significant effect of VHS degree on employment likelihood relative to GHS degree. However, once we include town-specific socio-economic variables to control for education, employment, and business activity levels in the town, the IV estimates get much smaller and become statistically insignificant. We conclude that although the VHS construction generates a substitution from GHS to VHS education, this substitution is not transformed into increased employment rates in a statistically significant way. We also argue that location-specific controls improve the reliability of the school construction/proximity instruments.
vocational education employment school construction instrumental variables