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The Role of Credit Constraints in the Cyclicality of College Enrolments


  • Gautam Hazarika


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gautam Hazarika, 2002. "The Role of Credit Constraints in the Cyclicality of College Enrolments," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(2), pages 133-143.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:10:y:2002:i:2:p:133-143 DOI: 10.1080/09645290210126887

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Willis, Robert J., 1987. "Wage determinants: A survey and reinterpretation of human capital earnings functions," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 525-602 Elsevier.
    2. Thomas J. Kane, 1995. "Rising Public College Tuition and College Entry: How Well Do Public Subsidies Promote Access to College?," NBER Working Papers 5164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Stephen Cameron & James J. Heckman, 1994. "Determinants of Young Males' Schooling and Training Choices," NBER Chapters,in: Training and the Private Sector: International Comparisons, pages 201-232 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jacoby, Hanan G, 1994. "Borrowing Constraints and Progress through School: Evidence from Peru," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(1), pages 151-160, February.
    5. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chapman, Bruce, 2006. "Income Contingent Loans for Higher Education: International Reforms," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    2. Huang, Jin & Guo, Baorong & Kim, Youngmi & Sherraden, Michael, 2010. "Parental income, assets, borrowing constraints and children's post-secondary education," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 585-594, April.
    3. repec:bla:coecpo:v:35:y:2017:i:2:p:253-268 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Johnson, Matthew T., 2013. "The impact of business cycle fluctuations on graduate school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 122-134.

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