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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)

Suggested Citation

  • John Bound & Michael F. Lovenheim & Sarah Turner, 2010. "Why Have College Completion Rates Declined? An Analysis of Changing Student Preparation and Collegiate Resources," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 129-157, July.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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