Research Insights: How Do Labor Market Signals Impact Young Professionals’ Careers?

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Dec 2023
In Colombia, college graduates who earn a national distinction award for top performance in a mandatory exit exam receive a 7 to 12 percent higher salary compared to peers without the award. This wage premium persists five years post-graduation. The wage premium is larger for graduates from non-elite institutions than graduates of more prestigious institutions. Workers with signals are more likely to be employed at productive firms, finding roles that align closely with their specific skills. The observed wage differences are not attributed to differences in human capital but rather to the effectiveness of the signal in the labor market.