The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges
AbstractOver the past few decades, the average college has not become more selective: the reverse is true, though not dramatically. People who believe that college selectivity is increasing may be extrapolating from the experience of a small number of colleges such as members of the Ivy League, Stanford, Duke, and so on. These colleges have experienced rising selectivity, but their experience turns out to be the exception rather than the rule. Only the top 10 percent of colleges are substantially more selective now than they were in 1962. Moreover, at least 50 percent of colleges are substantially less selective now than they were in 1962. To understand changing selectivity, we must focus on how the market for college education has re-sorted students among schools as the costs of distance and information have fallen. In the past, students' choices were very sensitive to the distance of a college from their home, but today, students, especially high-aptitude students, are far more sensitive to a college's resources and student body. It is the consequent re-sorting of students among colleges that has, at once, caused selectivity to rise in a small number of colleges while simultaneously causing it to fall in other colleges. This has had profound implications for colleges' resources, tuition, and subsidies for students. I demonstrate that the stakes associated with choosing a college are greater today than they were four decades ago because very selective colleges are offering very large per-student resources and per-student subsidies, enabling admitted students to make massive human capital investments.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.
Volume (Year): 23 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (Fall)
Other versions of this item:
- I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Sallee James M & Resch Alexandra M & Courant Paul N, 2008. "On the Optimal Allocation of Students and Resources in a System of Higher Education," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-26, June.
- Caroline M. Hoxby, 1997. "How the Changing Market Structure of U.S. Higher Education Explains College Tuition," NBER Working Papers 6323, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dominic J. Brewer & Eric Eide & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1996. "Does It Pay To Attend An Elite Private College? Cross Cohort Evidence on the Effects of College Quality on Earnings," NBER Working Papers 5613, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Monks, James, 2000. "The returns to individual and college characteristics: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 279-289, June.
- Rothschild, Michael & White, Lawrence J, 1995. "The Analytics of the Pricing of Higher Education and Other Services in Which the Customers Are Inputs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 573-86, June.
- Gordon C. Winston, 1999. "Subsidies, Hierarchy and Peers: The Awkward Economics of Higher Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 13-36, Winter.
- Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2006. "Estimating the Returns to College Quality with Multiple Proxies for Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 701-728, July.
- Michael Rothschild & Lawrence J. White, 1991.
"The University in the Marketplace: Some Insights and Some Puzzles,"
NBER Working Papers
3853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Michael Rothschild & Lawrence J. White, 1993. "The University in the Marketplace: Some Insights and Some Puzzles," NBER Chapters, in: Studies of Supply and Demand in Higher Education, pages 11-42 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stacy Berg Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 1999.
"Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables,"
NBER Working Papers
7322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stacy Berg Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2002. "Estimating The Payoff To Attending A More Selective College: An Application Of Selection On Observables And Unobservables," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1491-1527, November.
- Stacy Berg Dale & Alan Krueger, 1998. "Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables," Working Papers 788, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
- Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Holger Sieg, 2006.
"Admission, Tuition, and Financial Aid Policies in the Market for Higher Education,"
Econometric Society, vol. 74(4), pages 885-928, 07.
- Dennis Epple & Richard Romano & Holger Sieg, . "Admission, Tuition, and Financial Aid Policies in the Market for Higher Education," GSIA Working Papers 2003-04, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
- Charles T. Clotfelter, 1996. "Buying the Best: Cost Escalation in Elite Higher Education," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number clot96-1.
- Caroline M. Hoxby & Bridget Terry, 1999. "Explaining Rising Income and wage Inequality Among the College Educated," NBER Working Papers 6873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- The changing selectivity of US colleges
by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2009-12-08 00:55:00
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading lists or Wikipedia pages:Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.