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What's the value of an acceptance letter? Using admissions data to estimate the return to college

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  • Öckert, Björn

Abstract

This paper exploits discontinuities and randomness in the college admissions in Sweden in 1982, to estimate the economic return to college in the 1990s. At the time, college admissions were highly selective and applicants were ranked with respect to their formal merits. Admissions were given to those ranked higher than some threshold value. At the margin, applicants were sometimes randomly assigned to college. Exploiting this Regression-Discontinuity design, individuals who were admitted in 1982 are estimated to have about 0.20 years longer college education in 1996. However, the earnings effects for applicants at the margin of admission are insignificant. Controlling for the college admission determinants, the OLS-estimates of the return to college is 1.4 percent in 1991-96. The IV-estimates are not significantly different from the OLS counterparts.

Suggested Citation

  • Öckert, Björn, 2010. "What's the value of an acceptance letter? Using admissions data to estimate the return to college," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 504-516, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:29:y:2010:i:4:p:504-516
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Black, Dan A. & Smith, J.A.Jeffrey A., 2004. "How robust is the evidence on the effects of college quality? Evidence from matching," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 99-124.
    2. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1996. "College Choice and Wages: Estimates Using Data on Female Twins," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 672-685, November.
    3. Monks, James, 2000. "The returns to individual and college characteristics: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 279-289, June.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-209, January.
    7. Per-Anders Edin & Bertil Holmlund, 1995. "The Swedish Wage Structure: The Rise and Fall of Solidarity Wage Policy?," NBER Chapters,in: Differences and Changes in Wage Structures, pages 307-344 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-1160, September.
    9. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
    10. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Hällsten, Martin, 2012. "Is it ever too late to study? The economic returns on late tertiary degrees in Sweden," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 179-194.
    2. Maria K. Humlum & Jannie H.G. Kristoffersen & Rune Vejlin, 2012. "Timing of College Enrollment and Family Formation Decisions," Economics Working Papers 2012-01, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    3. Lars Kirkebøen & Edwin Leuven & Magne Mogstad, 2014. "Field of Study, Earnings, and Self-Selection," NBER Working Papers 20816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Mellander, Erik, 2016. "On the use of register data in educational science research," Working Paper Series 2016:22, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    5. Liu, Liqun & Neilson, William S., 2011. "High scores but low skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 507-516, June.
    6. Nordin , Martin & Heckley , Gawain & Gerdtham , Ulf-G, 2017. "Impact of a Tertiary Eligibility Threshold on Tertiary Education and Earnings: A Discontinuity Approach," Working Papers 2017:12, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    7. Justine S. Hastings & Christopher A. Neilson & Seth D. Zimmerman, 2013. "Are Some Degrees Worth More than Others? Evidence from college admission cutoffs in Chile," NBER Working Papers 19241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. repec:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/692475 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Seth D. Zimmerman, 2014. "The Returns to College Admission for Academically Marginal Students," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(4), pages 711-754.
    10. repec:eee:labeco:v:48:y:2017:i:c:p:215-230 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Justine Hastings & Christopher A. Neilson & Seth D. Zimmerman, 2015. "The Effects of Earnings Disclosure on College Enrollment Decisions," NBER Working Papers 21300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Jurajda, Stepán & Münich, Daniel, 2010. "Admission to selective schools, alphabetically," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 1100-1109, December.
    13. Martin Nybom, 2017. "The Distribution of Lifetime Earnings Returns to College," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(4), pages 903-952.

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