IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Do tuition fees affect enrollment behavior? Evidence from a ‘natural experiment’ in Germany


  • Hübner, Malte


This paper uses the introduction of tuition fees in seven of the sixteen German states in 2007 as a natural experiment to identify the effects of tuition prices on enrollment probabilities. Based on information on enrollment decisions of the entire population of high-school graduates between 2002 and 2008, I find a negative effect of tuition fees on enrollment behavior. The effect is larger than in existing studies for European countries, but of a similar magnitude as effects identified with U.S. data. A potential spill-over effect of the policy intervention to the comparison group is accounted for by using the estimation results to calibrate a structural model of the enrollment decision.

Suggested Citation

  • Hübner, Malte, 2012. "Do tuition fees affect enrollment behavior? Evidence from a ‘natural experiment’ in Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 949-960.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:31:y:2012:i:6:p:949-960 DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2012.06.006

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dynarski, Susan, 2000. "Hope for Whom? Financial Aid for the Middle Class and Its Impact on College Attendance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(3), pages 629-662, September.
    2. Viktor Steiner & Katharina Wrohlich, 2012. "Financial Student Aid and Enrollment in Higher Education: New Evidence from Germany," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(1), pages 124-147, March.
    3. Fredriksson, Peter, 1997. " Economic Incentives and the Demand for Higher Education," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(1), pages 129-142, March.
    4. Susan Dynarski, 2002. "The Behavioral and Distributional Implications of Aid for College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 279-285, May.
    5. Canton, Erik & de Jong, Frank, 2005. "The demand for higher education in The Netherlands, 1950-1999," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(6), pages 651-663, December.
    6. David Deming & Susan Dynarski, 2009. "Into College, Out of Poverty? Policies to Increase the Postsecondary Attainment of the Poor," NBER Working Papers 15387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Spiess, C. Katharina & Wrohlich, Katharina, 2010. "Does distance determine who attends a university in Germany?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 470-479, June.
    8. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    9. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-475, March.
    10. Neill, Christine, 2009. "Tuition fees and the demand for university places," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 561-570, October.
    11. Mixon, Franklin Jr & Hsing, Yu, 1994. "The determinants of out-of-state enrollments in higher education: A tobit analysis," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 329-335.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


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

    Cited by:

    1. Denny, Kevin, 2014. "The effect of abolishing university tuition costs: Evidence from Ireland," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 26-33.
    2. Görlitz, Katja & Gravert, Christina, 2015. "The Effects of Increasing the Standards of the High School Curriculum on School Dropout," IZA Discussion Papers 8766, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Mira Fischer & Patrick Kampkoetter, 2014. "Effects of the German Universities' Excellence Initiative on Ability Sorting of Students and Perceptions of Educational Quality," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 05-01, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences, revised 25 Jun 2016.
    4. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke, 2013. "Government Ideology and Tuition Fee Policy: Evidence from the German States," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 59(4), pages 628-649, December.
    5. Azmat, Ghazala & Simion, Stefania, 2017. "Higher Education Funding Reforms: A Comprehensive Analysis of Educational and Labor Market Outcomes in England," IZA Discussion Papers 11083, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Bruckmeier, Kerstin & Wigger, Berthold U., 2014. "The effects of tuition fees on transition from high school to university in Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 14-23.
    7. José García-Montalvo, 2018. "The Impact of Progressive Tuition Fees on Dropping Out of Higher Education: A Regression Discontinuity Design," Working Papers 1017, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    8. Ehlers, Tim, 2011. "University graduation dependent on family's wealth, ability and social status," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 120, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    9. Stephan Thomsen & Friederike von Haaren-Giebel, 2016. "Did tuition fees in Germany constrain students’ budgets? New evidence from a natural experiment," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-25, December.
    10. repec:got:cegedp:120 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Fabio Berton & Daniele Bondonio, 2014. "The Impact of Degree Duration on Higher Education Participation: Evidence from a Large-Scale Natural Experiment," LABORatorio R. Revelli Working Papers Series 137, LABORatorio R. Revelli, Centre for Employment Studies.
    12. Ghazala Azmat & Stefania Simion, 2018. "Higher Education Funding Reforms: A Comprehensive Analysis of Educational and Labour Market Outcomes in England," CEP Discussion Papers dp1529, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    13. José Garcia Montalvo, 2018. "The impact of progressive tuition fees on dropping out of higher education: a regression discontinuity design," Economics Working Papers 1597, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

    More about this item


    Tuition fees; Demand for higher education; Enrollment; Treatment effect;

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population


    Access and download statistics


    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:eee:ecoedu:v:31:y:2012:i:6:p:949-960. 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: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    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.