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The Falling Time Cost of College: Evidence from Half a Century of Time Use Data

  • Philip Babcock

    (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Mindy Marks

    (University of California, Riverside)

Using multiple data sets from different time periods, we document declines in academic time investment by full-time college students in the United States between 1961 and 2003. Full-time students allocated 40 hours per week toward class and studying in 1961, whereas by 2003, they were investing about 27 hours per week. Declines were extremely broad based and are not easily accounted for by framing effects, work or major choices, or compositional changes in students or schools. We conclude that there have been substantial changes over time in the quantity or manner of human capital production on college campuses. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/REST_a_00093
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 93 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 468-478

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:93:y:2011:i:2:p:468-478
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  1. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2006. "Measuring trends in leisure: the allocation of time over five decades," Working Papers 06-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  2. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2001. "Working During School and Academic Performance," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20011, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  3. Stacy Berg Dale & Alan Krueger, 1998. "Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables," Working Papers 788, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Daniel R. Sherman, 1985. "Employment While in College, Academic Achievement and Post-College Outcomes: A Summary of Results," NBER Working Papers 1742, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ronald Oaxaca, 1971. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," Working Papers 396, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. Sarah Turner, 2004. "Going to College and Finishing College.Explaining Different Educational Outcomes," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 13-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ehrenberg, R.G.Ronald G., 2004. "Econometric studies of higher education," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 19-37.
  8. Elder, Todd E. & Goddeeris, John H. & Haider, Steven J., 2009. "Unexplained Gaps and Oaxaca-Blinder Decompositions," IZA Discussion Papers 4159, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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