IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/jecper/v26y2012i1p193-216.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

American Higher Education in Transition

Author

Listed:
  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg

Abstract

American higher education is in transition along many dimensions: tuition levels, faculty composition, expenditure allocation, pedagogy, technology, and more. During the last three decades, at private four-year academic institutions, undergraduate tuition levels increased each year on average by 3.5 percent more than the rate of inflation; the comparable increases for public four-year and public two-year institutions were 5.1 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively. Academic institutions have also changed how they allocate their resources. The percentage of faculty nationwide that is full-time has declined, and the vast majority of part-time faculty members do not have Ph.D.s. The share of institutional expenditures going to faculty salaries and benefits in both public and private institutions has fallen relative to the share going to nonfaculty uses like student services, academic support, and institutional support. There are changing modes of instruction, together with different uses of technology, as institutions reexamine the prevailing "lecture/discussion" format. A number of schools are charging differential tuition across students. This paper discusses these various changes, how they are distributed across higher education sectors, and their implications. I conclude with some speculations about the future of American education.

Suggested Citation

  • Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 2012. "American Higher Education in Transition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(1), pages 193-216, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:26:y:2012:i:1:p:193-216
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.26.1.193
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.26.1.193
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/jep/app/2601_Ehrenberg_app.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    2. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Paul J. Pieper & Rachel A. Willis, 1998. "Do Economics Departments With Lower Tenure Probabilities Pay Higher Faculty Salaries?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(4), pages 503-512, November.
    3. Stacy Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2011. "Estimating the Return to College Selectivity Over the Career Using Administrative Earning Data," Mathematica Policy Research Reports d76ec29a0bbb4b1bb9d285b5a, Mathematica Policy Research.
    4. Charles E. Scott & John J. Siegfried, 2017. "American Economic Association Universal Academic Questionnaire Summary Statistics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 678-680, May.
    5. Michael Watts & William E. Becker, 2008. "A Little More than Chalk and Talk: Results from a Third National Survey of Teaching Methods in Undergraduate Economics Courses," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(3), pages 273-286, July.
    6. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Liang Zhang, 2005. "Do Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Matter?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    7. Stacy Berg Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2002. "Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1491-1527.
    8. Charles E. Scott & John J. Siegfried, 2017. "American Economic Association Universal Academic Questionnaire Summary Statistics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 678-680, May.
    9. Charles E. Scott & John J. Siegfried, 2017. "American Economic Association Universal Academic Questionnaire Summary Statistics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 678-680, May.
    10. Michael Watts & Georg Schaur, 2011. "Teaching and Assessment Methods in Undergraduate Economics: A Fourth National Quinquennial Survey," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(3), pages 294-309, July.
    11. Charles E. Scott & John J. Siegfried, 2017. "American Economic Association Universal Academic Questionnaire Summary Statistics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 678-680, May.
    12. Charles E. Scott & John J. Siegfried, 2017. "American Economic Association Universal Academic Questionnaire Summary Statistics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 678-680, May.
    13. Charles E. Scott & John J. Siegfried, 2017. "American Economic Association Universal Academic Questionnaire Summary Statistics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 678-680, May.
    14. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2010. "Does Cheaper Mean Better? The Impact of Using Adjunct Instructors on Student Outcomes," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 598-613, August.
    15. Lazear, Edward P, 1979. "Why Is There Mandatory Retirement?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1261-1284, December.
    16. Zhang, Liang & Liu, Xiangmin, 2010. "Faculty employment at 4-year colleges and universities," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 543-552, August.
    17. Charles E. Scott & John J. Siegfried, 2017. "American Economic Association Universal Academic Questionnaire Summary Statistics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 678-680, May.
    18. repec:pri:indrel:dsp01gf06g265z is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Florian Hoffmann & Philip Oreopoulos, 2009. "Professor Qualities and Student Achievement," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 83-92, February.
    20. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:5:p:678-80 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Webber, Douglas A. & Ehrenberg, Ronald G., 2010. "Do expenditures other than instructional expenditures affect graduation and persistence rates in American higher education?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 947-958, December.
    22. repec:mpr:mprres:6922 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Zhang, Liang & Ehrenberg, Ronald G., 2010. "Faculty employment and R&D expenditures at Research universities," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 329-337, June.
    24. Stephen A. Hoenack & William C. Weiler, 1975. "Cost-Related Tuition Policies and University Enrollments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 10(3), pages 332-360.
    25. Dominic J. Brewer & Eric R. Eide & Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 1999. "Does It Pay to Attend an Elite Private College? Cross-Cohort Evidence on the Effects of College Type on Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 104-123.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. William Shobe & John L. Knapp, 2007. "The Economic Impact of the University of Virginia: How a Major Research University Affects the Local and State Economies," Reports 2007-01, Center for Economic and Policy Studies.
    2. David J. Deming & Christopher R. Walters, 2017. "The Impact of Price Caps and Spending Cuts on U.S. Postsecondary Attainment," NBER Working Papers 23736, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hiep-Hung Pham & Sue Ling Lai & Quan-Hoang Vuong, 2017. "The impacts of value, disconfirmation and satisfaction on loyalty: Evidence from international higher education setting," Working Papers CEB 17-035, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    4. John Bailey Jones & Fang Yang, 2016. "Skill-Biased Technical Change and the Cost of Higher Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 621-662.
    5. Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 2014. "What's the Future of Public Higher Education? A Review Essay on Gary C. Fethke and Andrew J. Policano's Public No More: A New Path to Excellence for America's Public Universities," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(4), pages 1142-1150, December.
    6. Burer, Samuel & Fethke, Gary, 2016. "Nearly-efficient tuitions and subsidies in American public higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 182-197.
    7. Paula Stephan, 2014. "The Endless Frontier: Reaping What Bush Sowed?," NBER Chapters,in: The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy, pages 321-366 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Webber, Douglas A., 2014. "The lifetime earnings premia of different majors: Correcting for selection based on cognitive, noncognitive, and unobserved factors," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 14-23.
    9. David N. Figlio & Morton O. Schapiro & Kevin B. Soter, 2015. "Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 715-724, October.
    10. Steven W. Hemelt & Kevin M. Stange, 2014. "Marginal Pricing and Student Investment in Higher Education," NBER Working Papers 20779, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Ozan Jaquette & Edna Parra, 2016. "The Problem with the Delta Cost Project Database," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 57(5), pages 630-651, August.
    12. Webber, Douglas A., 2017. "Risk-sharing and student loan policy: Consequences for students and institutions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 1-9.
    13. Long, Mark C. & Goldhaber, Dan & Huntington-Klein, Nick, 2015. "Do completed college majors respond to changes in wages?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 1-14.
    14. repec:wly:quante:v:8:y:2017:i:3:p:895-927 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Yan Lau & Harvey S. Rosen, 2015. "Are Universities Becoming More Unequal?," NBER Working Papers 21432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Yan Lau & Harvey S. Rosen, 2015. "Are Universities Becoming More Unequal?," Working Papers 245, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    17. Christian Belzil & Jorgen Hansen & Xingfei Liu, 2017. "Dynamic skill accumulation, education policies, and the return to schooling," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 8(3), pages 895-927, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

    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:jecper:v:26:y:2012:i:1:p:193-216. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

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

    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 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.