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The medium-term labor market returns to community college awards: Evidence from North Carolina

Author

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  • Liu, Vivian Y.T.
  • Belfield, Clive R.
  • Trimble, Madeline J.

Abstract

This paper examines the relative labor market gains for first-time college students who entered the North Carolina Community College System in 2002–2003. We compare the returns to diplomas, certificates, and degrees to the returns to some college credits. The authors also investigate the returns to subject field, transfer, and the early trajectories of wages. The analysis is based on student-level administrative records from college transcripts, Unemployment Insurance wage data, and the National Student Clearinghouse data across 830,000 students between 2001 and 2010. Findings from this study confirm those from earlier work: The returns to certificates and diplomas were weak, but associate and bachelor's degrees yielded very strong returns; even small accumulations of credits had labor market value; and the health sector credentials had extremely high returns. Returns were higher for female than for male students. Despite the Great Recession, the returns to college remain strong over the late 2000s.

Suggested Citation

  • Liu, Vivian Y.T. & Belfield, Clive R. & Trimble, Madeline J., 2015. "The medium-term labor market returns to community college awards: Evidence from North Carolina," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 42-55.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:44:y:2015:i:c:p:42-55
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2014.10.009
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    3. Celeste K. Carruthers & Christopher Jepsen, 2020. "Vocational Education: An International Perspective," CESifo Working Paper Series 8718, CESifo.
    4. Susan Dynarski & Brian Jacob & Daniel Kreisman, 2018. "How important are fixed effects and time trends in estimating returns to schooling? Evidence from a replication of Jacobson, Lalonde, and Sullivan, 2005," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 33(7), pages 1098-1108, November.
    5. Somani, Ravi, 2021. "The returns to higher education and public employment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
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    7. Vivian Liu & Soumya Mishra & Elizabeth M. Kopko, 2021. "Major Decision: The Impact of Major Switching on Academic Outcomes in Community Colleges," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 62(4), pages 498-527, June.
    8. Judith Scott-Clayton & Qiao Wen, 2019. "Estimating Returns to College Attainment: Comparing Survey and State Administrative Data–Based Estimates," Evaluation Review, , vol. 43(5), pages 266-306, October.
    9. Zeidenberg, Matthew & Scott, Marc & Belfield, Clive, 2015. "What about the non-completers? The labor market returns to progress in community college," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 142-156.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Returns to education; Salary wage differentials; Earnings; Higher education;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models

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