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Intended college attendance: Evidence from an experiment on college returns and costs

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  • Bleemer, Zachary
  • Zafar, Basit

Abstract

We conduct an information experiment about college returns and costs embedded within a representative survey of US household heads. Baseline perceptions of college costs and benefits are substantially biased, with larger biases among lower-income and non-college households. Respondents are randomly exposed to objective information about average college “returns” or costs. We find a significant impact of the “returns” experiment, persisting in a follow-up survey two months later: intended college attendance expectations increase by about 0.2 of the standard deviation in the baseline likelihood, and gaps by household income or parents’ education decline by 20–30%. We find no impact of the cost information treatment. Further analysis supports the information’s salience, as opposed to information-based updating, as the main channel through which the returns intervention impacts intentions.

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  • Bleemer, Zachary & Zafar, Basit, 2018. "Intended college attendance: Evidence from an experiment on college returns and costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 184-211.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:157:y:2018:i:c:p:184-211
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.11.002
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    College enrollment; College returns and costs; Information; Subjective expectations;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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