IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aejapp/v4y2012i1p49-84.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

An Empirical Investigation of the Option Value of College Enrollment

Author

Listed:
  • Kevin M. Stange

Abstract

This paper quantifies the option value arising from sequential schooling decisions made in the presence of uncertainty and learning about academic ability. College attendance has option value since enrolled students have the option, but not obligation, to continue in school after learning their aptitude and tastes. I estimate that option value accounts for 14 percent of the total value of the opportunity to attend college for the average high school graduate and is greatest for moderate-aptitude students. Students' ability to make decisions sequentially in response to new information increases welfare and also makes educational outcomes less polarized by background. (JEL D83, I23)

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin M. Stange, 2012. "An Empirical Investigation of the Option Value of College Enrollment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 49-84, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:1:p:49-84
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.4.1.49
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/app.4.1.49
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej/app/data/2010-0313_data.zip
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej/app/app/2010-0313_app.pdf
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jaeger, David A & Page, Marianne E, 1996. "Degrees Matter: New Evidence on Sheepskin Effects in the Returns to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 733-740, November.
    2. Rust, John, 1987. "Optimal Replacement of GMC Bus Engines: An Empirical Model of Harold Zurcher," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 999-1033, September.
    3. Heckman, James & Singer, Burton, 1984. "A Method for Minimizing the Impact of Distributional Assumptions in Econometric Models for Duration Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(2), pages 271-320, March.
    4. Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance J. & Todd, Petra E., 2006. "Earnings Functions, Rates of Return and Treatment Effects: The Mincer Equation and Beyond," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & F. Welch (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 307-458, Elsevier.
    5. Pugatch, Todd, 2012. "Bumpy Rides: School to Work Transitions in South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 6305, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2012. "Learning about Academic Ability and the College Dropout Decision," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 707-748.
    7. Philip Oreopoulos & Till von Wachter & Andrew Heisz, 2006. "The Short- and Long-Term Career Effects of Graduating in a Recession: Hysteresis and Heterogeneity in the Market for College Graduates," NBER Working Papers 12159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Park, Jin Heum, 1999. "Estimation of sheepskin effects using the old and the new measures of educational attainment in the Current Population Survey," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 237-240, February.
    9. Avinash K. Dixit & Robert S. Pindyck, 1994. "Investment under Uncertainty," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 5474.
    10. Taber, Christopher R., 2000. "Semiparametric identification and heterogeneity in discrete choice dynamic programming models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 201-229, June.
    11. Dothan, Uri & Williams, Joseph, 1981. "Education as an Option," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(1), pages 117-139, January.
    12. Flavio Cunha & James Heckman & Salvador Navarro, 2005. "Separating uncertainty from heterogeneity in life cycle earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 191-261, April.
    13. Kane, Thomas J & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1995. "Labor-Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 600-614, June.
    14. Burton A. Weisbrod, 1962. "Education and Investment in Human Capital," NBER Chapters, in: Investment in Human Beings, pages 106-123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. 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.
    16. Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2007. "Dynamic discrete choice and dynamic treatment effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 341-396, February.
    17. Burton A. Weisbrod, 1962. "Education and Investment in Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70(5), pages 106-106.
    18. 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 421-435, June.
    19. Courtney Coile & Jonathan Gruber, 2007. "Future Social Security Entitlements and the Retirement Decision," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 234-246, May.
    20. Barnett,William A. & Powell,James & Tauchen,George E. (ed.), 1991. "Nonparametric and Semiparametric Methods in Econometrics and Statistics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521424318, November.
    21. Barnett,William A. & Powell,James & Tauchen,George E. (ed.), 1991. "Nonparametric and Semiparametric Methods in Econometrics and Statistics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521370905, November.
    22. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Why Youths Drop Out of High School: The Impact of Preferences, Opportunities, and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1295-1340, November.
    23. O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Manudeep Bhuller & Philipp Eisenhauer & Moritz Mendel, 2022. "Sequential Choices, Option Values, and the Returns to Education," Papers 2205.05444, arXiv.org.
    2. Juanna Schrøter Joensen, 2010. "Timing and Incentives: Impacts of Student Aid on Academic Achievement," 2010 Meeting Papers 823, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Victor Aguirregabiria, 2006. "Another Look at the Identification of Dynamic Discrete Decision Processes: With an Application to Retirement Behavior," 2006 Meeting Papers 169, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Veramendi, Gregory & Urzua, Sergio, 2014. "Education, Health and Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 8027, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. James J. Heckman & Lance J. Lochner & Petra E. Todd, 2003. "Fifty Years of Mincer Earnings Regressions," NBER Working Papers 9732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Philipp Eisenhauer & James J. Heckman & Stefano Mosso, 2015. "Estimation Of Dynamic Discrete Choice Models By Maximum Likelihood And The Simulated Method Of Moments," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 56(2), pages 331-357, May.
    7. Heckman, James J. & Humphries, John Eric & Veramendi, Gregory, 2016. "Dynamic treatment effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 191(2), pages 276-292.
    8. Jaap H. Abbring, 2010. "Identification of Dynamic Discrete Choice Models," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 2(1), pages 367-394, September.
    9. Kemptner, Daniel & Tolan, Songül, 2018. "The role of time preferences in educational decision making," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 25-39.
    10. Belzil, Christian, 2007. "The return to schooling in structural dynamic models: a survey," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 1059-1105, July.
    11. Jacobs, Bas, 2007. "Real options and human capital investment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 913-925, December.
    12. Pamela Giustinelli, 2022. "Expectations in Education: Framework, Elicitation, and Evidence," Working Papers 2022-026, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    13. Judith M. Delaney, 2019. "Risk-adjusted returns to education," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(5), pages 472-487, September.
    14. Lutz Hendricks & Oksana Leukhina, 2018. "The Return To College: Selection And Dropout Risk," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(3), pages 1077-1102, August.
    15. Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance J. & Todd, Petra E., 2006. "Earnings Functions, Rates of Return and Treatment Effects: The Mincer Equation and Beyond," Handbook of the Economics of Education, in: Erik Hanushek & F. Welch (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Education, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 307-458, Elsevier.
    16. Laura Ehrmantraut & Pia Pinger & Renske Stans, 2020. "The Expected (Signaling) Value of Higher Education," Working Papers 2020-070, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    17. Bilkic, N. & Gries, T. & Pilichowski, M., 2012. "Stay in school or start working? — The human capital investment decision under uncertainty and irreversibility," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(5), pages 706-717.
    18. Heckman, James J. & Navarro, Salvador, 2007. "Dynamic discrete choice and dynamic treatment effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 341-396, February.
    19. Chaitali Sinha, 2014. "Human Capital and Public Policy," South Asian Journal of Macroeconomics and Public Finance, , vol. 3(1), pages 79-125, June.
    20. Binelli, Chiara & Menezes-Filho, Naercio, 2019. "Why Brazil fell behind in college education?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 80-106.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. An Empirical Investigation of the Option Value of College Enrollment (American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2012) in ReplicationWiki

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:1:p:49-84. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Michael P. Albert (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.