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Do the benefits of college still outweigh the costs?

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Abstract

In recent years, students have been paying more to attend college and earning less upon graduation?trends that have led many observers to question whether a college education remains a good investment. However, an analysis of the economic returns to college since the 1970s demonstrates that the benefits of both a bachelor?s degree and an associate?s degree still tend to outweigh the costs, with both degrees earning a return of about 15 percent over the past decade. The return has remained high in spite of rising tuition and falling earnings because the wages of those without a college degree have also been falling, keeping the college wage premium near an all-time high while reducing the opportunity cost of going to school.

Suggested Citation

  • Jaison R. Abel & Richard Deitz, 2013. "Do the benefits of college still outweigh the costs?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 20.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednci:00003
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    Cited by:

    1. Erin Wolcott, 2018. "Employment Inequality: Why Do the Low-Skilled Work Less Now?," 2018 Meeting Papers 487, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    2. Lance Wescher & Travis Hutchinson & Anna Rannou, 2019. "Minimum Wages, Employment, and College Enrollment," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 64(1), pages 3-18, March.
    3. Cooper, Daniel & Luengo-Prado, María José, 2015. "House price growth when children are teenagers: A path to higher earnings?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 54-72.
    4. Heidrich, Stefanie, 2016. "A study of the Missing Data Problem for Intergenerational Mobility using Simulations," Umeå Economic Studies 930, Umeå University, Department of Economics.
    5. Christian Belzil & Jörgen Hansen, 2020. "Reconciling Changes in Wage Inequality With Changes in College Selectivity Using a Behavioral Model," CIRANO Working Papers 2020s-36, CIRANO.
    6. Robert G. Valletta, 2018. "Recent Flattening in the Higher Education Wage Premium: Polarization, Skill Downgrading, or Both?," NBER Chapters, in: Education, Skills, and Technical Change: Implications for Future US GDP Growth, pages 313-342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Christian Belzil & Jörgen Hansen, 2020. "The evolution of the US family income–schooling relationship and educational selectivity," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(7), pages 841-859, November.
    8. Lenz-Rashid, Sonja, 2018. "An urban university campus support program for students from foster care: Services and outcomes," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 180-185.
    9. Christian Belzil & Jorgen Hansen & Xingfei Liu, 2017. "Dynamic skill accumulation, education policies, and the return to schooling," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 8(3), pages 895-927, November.
    10. Blumenthal, Anne & Shanks, Trina R., 2019. "Communication matters: A long-term follow-up study of child savings account program participation," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 136-146.
    11. Heidrich, Stefanie, 2016. "Essays on Intergenerational Income Mobility, Geographical Mobility, and Education," Umeå Economic Studies 932, Umeå University, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    college education; economic return;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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