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Why Have College Completion Rates Declined? An Analysis of Changing Student Preparation and Collegiate Resources

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  • John Bound
  • Michael F. Lovenheim
  • Sarah Turner

Abstract

Rising college enrollment over the last quarter century has not been met with a proportional increase in college completion. Comparing the high school classes of 1972 and 1992, we show declines in college completion rates have been most pronounced for men who first enroll in less selective public universities and community colleges. We decompose the decline into the components due to changes in preparedness of entering students and due to changes in collegiate characteristics, including type of institution and resources per student. While both factors play some role, the supply-side characteristics are most important in explaining changes in college completion. (JEL I23)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 129-57

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:129-57

Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.2.3.129
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  1. Jaeger, David A, 1997. "Reconciling the Old and New Census Bureau Education Questions: Recommendations for Researchers," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(3), pages 300-309, July.
  2. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra, 1998. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(2), pages 261-94, April.
  3. Bound, John & Turner, Sarah, 2007. "Cohort crowding: How resources affect collegiate attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 877-899, June.
  4. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Ilyana Kuziemko, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(4), pages 133-156, Fall.
  5. Robert Barsky & John Bound & Kerwin Charles & Joseph Lupton, 2001. "Accounting for the Black-White Wealth Gap: A Nonparametric Approach," NBER Working Papers 8466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2005. "Dynamic Discrete Choice and Dynamic Treatment Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 1790, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2009. "The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 95-118, Fall.
  8. Leigh, D. E. & Gill, A. M., 2003. "Do community colleges really divert students from earning bachelor's degrees?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 23-30, February.
  9. Joseph G. Altonji, 1991. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes are Uncertain," NBER Working Papers 3714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Patrick Royston, 2004. "Multiple imputation of missing values," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(3), pages 227-241, September.
  11. Burton A. Weisbrod, 1962. "Education and Investment in Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 106.
  12. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
  13. John B. Carlin & Ning Li & Philip Greenwood & Carolyn Coffey, 2003. "Tools for analyzing multiple imputed datasets," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 3(3), pages 226-244, September.
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