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Ova and out: Using twins to estimate the educational returns to attending a selective college

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  • Smith, Jonathan

Abstract

Research has shown that attending a relatively selective four-year college over a less selective alternative is positively related to bachelor's degree completion. This paper revisits that question with a novel dataset of over 11,000 sets of twins in the United States and information on colleges to which they apply, enroll, and potentially graduate. I show that a student's probability of bachelor's degree completion within four years increases by 5 percentage points by choosing an institution with a median SAT score 100 points higher than the alternative. Moreover, the estimated magnitude of impact is insensitive to several methodologies, including OLS, twin fixed effects, and controlling for the application portfolio. This suggests that in certain contexts, sources of bias perceived as barriers to obtaining causal estimates of the returns to college selectivity, such as unobserved family characteristics and student aspiration, may be of little concern.

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  • Smith, Jonathan, 2013. "Ova and out: Using twins to estimate the educational returns to attending a selective college," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 166-180.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:36:y:2013:i:c:p:166-180
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2013.06.008
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    Cited by:

    1. Walker, Ian & Zhu, Yu, 2017. "University Selectivity and the Graduate Wage Premium: Evidence from the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 10536, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Walker, Ian & Zhu, Yu, 2018. "University selectivity and the relative returns to higher education: Evidence from the UK," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 230-249.
    3. Hurwitz, Michael & Goodman, Joshua Samuel & Smith, Jonathan & Fox, Julia, 2015. "The relationship between siblings’ college choices: Evidence from one million SAT-taking families," Scholarly Articles 22805380, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    4. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan & Fox, Julia, 2015. "The relationship between siblings’ college choices: Evidence from one million SAT-taking families," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 75-85.
    5. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan, 2014. "Sibling (Non) Rivalry: The Relationship between Siblings' College Choices," Working Paper Series rwp14-028, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    6. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan & Fox, Julia, 2016. "Reprint of “The relationship between siblings’ college choices: Evidence from one million SAT-taking families”," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 125-135.
    7. Joshua Goodman & Michael Hurwitz & Jonathan Smith, "undated". "Access to Four-Year Public Colleges and Degree Completion," Working Paper 175226, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    8. Tamara Linkow & Amanda Parsad & Alina Martinez & Hannah Miller, "undated". "Study of Enhanced College Advising in Upward Bound: Impacts on Where and How Long Students Attend College," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 3d7ea66734974a83b402c4cf5, Mathematica Policy Research.
    9. Arnaud Chevalier, 2014. "Does Higher Education Quality Matter in the UK?," Research in Labor Economics, in: Solomon W. Polachek & Konstantinos Tatsiramos (ed.), Factors Affecting Worker Well-being: The Impact of Change in the Labor Market, volume 40, pages 257-292, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    10. Jonathan Smith & Kevin Stange, 2016. "A New Measure of College Quality to Study the Effects of College Sector and Peers on Degree Attainment," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(4), pages 369-403, Fall.
    11. NAKAMURO Makiko & INUI Tomohiko, 2013. "The Returns to College Quality in Japan: Does Your College Choice Affect Your Earnings?," ESRI Discussion paper series 306, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    12. repec:hrv:hksfac:34298861 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Bell, D’Wayne & Feng, Jing & Holbein, John B. & Smith, Jonathan, 2022. "Do STEM Students Vote?," IZA Discussion Papers 15483, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan, 2015. "College Access, Initial College Choice and Degree Completion," Working Paper Series rwp14-030, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Higher education; Returns to selectivity; College completion;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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