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On the distribution of college dropouts: household wealth and uninsurable idiosyncratic risk

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  • Ali K. Ozdagli
  • Nicholas Trachter

Abstract

This paper presents a dynamic model of the decision to pursue a college education in which students face uncertainty about their future income stream after graduation due to unobserved heterogeneity in their innate scholastic ability. After students matriculate and start taking exams, they reevaluate their expectations about succeeding in college and may find it optimal to drop out and join the workforce without completing an undergraduate degree. The model shows that, in accordance with the data, poorer students are less likely to graduate and are more apt to drop out earlier than are wealthier students. Our model generates these results without introducing credit constraints. Conditioning on measures of innate ability, in the data we find that poor students are at least 27 percent more likely to drop out of college and they do so sooner than wealthier students.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 11-8.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:11-8

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Related research

Keywords: College graduates ; Education - Economic aspects;

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  1. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2007. "The Effect of Credit Constraints on the College Drop-Out Decision A Direct Approach Using a New Panel Study," NBER Working Papers 13340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2008. "Learning About Academic Ability and the College Drop-Out Decision," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20086, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  3. Nicholas Trachter, 2011. "Option Value and Transitions in a Model of Postsecondary Education," EIEF Working Papers Series 1103, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Jan 2011.
  4. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Daniel B. Nelson & Dean P. Foster, 1994. "Asypmtotic Filtering Theory for Univariate Arch Models," NBER Technical Working Papers 0129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Stacey H. Chen, 2008. "Estimating the Variance of Wages in the Presence of Selection and Unobserved Heterogeneity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 275-289, May.
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