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Product Mix and Cost Disaggregation: A Reinterpretation of the Economics of Higher Education

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  • Estelle James
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    Abstract

    This paper attempts to separate undergraduate, graduate, and research costs at the university. Since the proportion of resources allocated to each of these activities varies systematically across time and institutions, this disaggregation alters our cross-sectional and intertemporal picture of productivity, net benefits, and subsidies in higher education. Real undergraduate costs are shown to be much lower than previously assumed and the social rate of return higher; educational "productivity" has been rising through time, contrary to popular belief. Undergraduate education is now a profitable "production" activity at universities, used to subsidize their "consumption" of loss-making graduate education. Community college teaching is more costly and heavily subsidized than university teaching of lower-division students.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

    Volume (Year): 13 (1978)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 157-186

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    Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:13:y:1978:i:2:p:157-186

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    Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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    Cited by:
    1. Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    3. Birdsall, Nancy, 1996. "Public spending on higher education in developing countries: Too much or too little?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 407-419, October.
    4. Estelle James & Egon Neuberger, 1981. "The university department as a non-profit labor cooperative," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 585-612, January.
    5. Turner, Nick, 2010. "Who Benefits From Student Aid? The Economic Incidence of Tax-Based Federal Student Aid," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt7g0888mj, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
    6. Pablo Gonz�lez, 2002. "Lecciones de la investigaci�n econ�mica sobre el rol del sector privado en educaci�n," Documentos de Trabajo 117, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    7. Dundar, Halil & Lewis, Darrell R., 1995. "Departmental productivity in American universities: Economies of scale and scope," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 119-144, June.
    8. Balazs Varadi, 2001. "Multiproduct Cost Function Estimation for American Higher Education: Economies of Scale and Scope," IEHAS Discussion Papers 0111, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
    9. Susan Nelson & David Breneman, 1981. "An equity perspective on community college finance," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 515-532, January.
    10. Andreas Ortmann, 2001. "Capital Romance: Why Wall Street Fell in Love With Higher Education," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 293-311.
    11. Connolly, Laura S., 1997. "Does external funding of academic research crowd out institutional support?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(3), pages 389-406, June.

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