The Role of Credit Constraints in the Cyclicality of College Enrolments
Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), this paper investigates the effect of plausible credit constraints on the cyclicality of teen college enrolments. It is found that teens from wealthier families are more likely to attend college in regional recessions. However, this countercyclical impetus to enrolments is significantly weaker in teens from less wealthy families. The phenomenon is attributed to credit constraints. Teens from families that possess fewer assets to offer lenders as collateral must finance college mainly with part-time earnings and parental subsidies, sums that may dwindle in recessions, making college less affordable. This paper also examines the influence of regional economic conditions on the type of college attended. In particular, it finds no evidence that teens from less wealthy families favor cheaper community colleges in recessions. Also examined are the effects of regional economic conditions at age 18 on college attainment many years hence. It is found that regional economic conditions at 18 have no significant effect on long-term college attainment. Thus, changes in teen enrolment propensities associated with variation in regional economic conditions are merely timing effects.
Volume (Year): 10 (2002)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
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