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Enrollment and Curriculum: A Laffer Curve Analysis


  • Stephen Shmanske


When a college or graduate school toughens its curriculum, entry requirements, or graduation requirements, generally two opposite effects on enrollment will occur. First, because the graduating students have learned more and can signal to employers that they are more able, they can command higher starting wages, and this enhances enrollment. Second, the pool of students who are both eligible to enroll and able to complete the program is diminished, having a negative effect on enrollment. The resulting curve depicting enrollment as a function of the difficulty of the curriculum has the general Laffer curve properties and can be fruitfully examined. A preoccupation with current enrollment levels can lead to pressure to ease the difficulty of the curriculum, however doing so will backfire in the long run.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Shmanske, 2002. "Enrollment and Curriculum: A Laffer Curve Analysis," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 73-82, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:33:y:2002:i:1:p:73-82
    DOI: 10.1080/00220480209596126

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