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What Explains Trends in Labor Supply Among U.S. Undergraduates?

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  • Scott-Clayton, Judith

Abstract

Recent cohorts of college enrollees are more likely to work, and work substantially more, than those in the past. October Current Population Survey data reveal that average labor supply among 18- to 22-year-old, full-time undergraduates nearly doubled between 1970 and 2000, rising from six hours to 11 hours per week. In 2000 over half of these "traditional" college students were working for pay in the reference week, and those who worked at all worked an average of 22 hours per week. After 2000, labor supply leveled off and then fell abruptly in the wake of the Great Recession to an average of eight hours per week in 2009. This paper considers several explanations for the long-term trend of rising employment — including changes in demographic composition and rising tuition costs — and considers whether the upward trend is likely to resume when economic conditions improve.

Suggested Citation

  • Scott-Clayton, Judith, 2012. "What Explains Trends in Labor Supply Among U.S. Undergraduates?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 65(1), pages 181-210, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ntj:journl:v:65:y:2012:i:1:p:181-210
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kurlaender, Michal & Jackson, Jacob & Howell, Jessica S. & Grodsky, Eric, 2014. "College course scarcity and time to degree," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 24-39.
    2. Scott-Clayton, Judith & Minaya, Veronica, 2016. "Should student employment be subsidized? Conditional counterfactuals and the outcomes of work-study participation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1-18.
    3. Adam M. Lavecchia & Heidi Liu & Philip Oreopoulos, 2014. "Behavioral Economics of Education: Progress and Possibilities," NBER Working Papers 20609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jeffrey T. Denning, 2017. "Born Under a Lucky Star: Financial Aid, College Completion, Labor Supply, and Credit Constraints," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 17-267, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    5. Rajeev Darolia, 2015. "Income-Tested College Financial Aid and Labor Disincentives," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 15-248, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

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