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A general equilibrium theory of college with education subsidies, in-school labor supply, and borrowing constraints

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  • Carlos Garriga
  • Mark P. Keightley

Abstract

This paper analyzes the effectiveness of three different types of education policies: tuition subsidies (broad based, merit based, and flat tuition), grant subsidies (broad based and merit based), and loan limit restrictions. We develop a quantitative theory of college within the context of general equilibrium overlapping generations economy. College is modeled as a multi-period risky investment with endogenous enrollment, time-to-degree, and dropout behavior. Tuition costs can be financed using federal grants, student loans, and working while at college. We show that our model accounts for the main statistics regarding education (enrollment rate, dropout rate, and time to degree) while matching the observed aggregate wage premiums. Our model predicts that broad based tuition subsidies and grants increase college enrollment. However, due to the correlation between ability and financial resources most of these new students are from the lower end of the ability distribution and eventually dropout or take longer than average to complete college. Merit based education policies counteract this adverse selection problem but at the cost of a muted enrollment response. Our last policy experiment highlights an important interaction between the labor-supply margin and borrowing. A significant decrease in enrollment is found to occur only when borrowing constraints are severely tightened and the option to work while in school is removed. This result suggests that previous models that have ignored the student's labor supply when analyzing borrowing constraints may be insufficient.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2007-051.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2007-051

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Keywords: Education - Economic aspects ; College costs;

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  1. James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "General Equilibrium Treatment Effects: A Study of Tuition Policy," NBER Working Papers 6426, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Black, Sandra E. & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G., 2003. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," IZA Discussion Papers 926, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 2001. "The Effect of Parental Transfers and Borrowing Constraints on Educational Attainment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1051-1103, November.
  4. Michael P. Keane, 2002. "Financial Aid, Borrowing Constraints, and College Attendance: Evidence from Structural Estimates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 293-297, May.
  5. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  6. Diego Restuccia & Carlos Urrutia, 2002. "Intergenerational Persistence of Earnings: The Role of Early and College Education," Working Papers 0209, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  7. 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.
  8. Stephen V. Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1999. "The Dynamics of Educational Attainment for Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites," NBER Working Papers 7249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Comay, Yochanan & Melnik, A & Pollatschek, M A, 1973. "The Option Value of Education and the Optimal Path for Investment in Human Capital," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(2), pages 421-35, June.
  10. Akyol, Ahmet & Athreya, Kartik, 2005. "Risky higher education and subsidies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 979-1023, June.
  11. Levhari, David & Weiss, Yoram, 1974. "The Effect of Risk on the Investment in Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(6), pages 950-63, December.
  12. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Krishna B. Kumar, 2000. "Higher Education Subsidies and Heterogeneity, A Dynamic Analysis," RCER Working Papers 472, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  13. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
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Cited by:
  1. Hui He, 2011. "Why Have Girls Gone to College? A Quantitative Examination of the Female College Enrollment Rate in the United States: 1955-1980," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 12(1), pages 41-64, May.
  2. Gonzalo Castex, 2010. "Accounting for Changes in College Attendance Profile: a Quantitative Life-Cycle Analysis," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 598, Central Bank of Chile.
  3. Gonzalo Castex, 2011. "College Risk and Return," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 606, Central Bank of Chile.
  4. Satyajit Chatterjee & Felicia Ionescu, 2012. "Insuring student loans against the financial risk of failing to complete college," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 3(3), pages 393-420, November.
  5. Nicole Simpson & Felicia Ionescu, 2010. "Credit Scores and College Investment," 2010 Meeting Papers 666, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Matthew T. Johnson, 2010. "Borrowing Constraints, College Enrollment, and Delayed Entry," Working Papers 2011-006, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group, revised Sep 2012.

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