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Changes in Postsecondary Choices by Ability and Income: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth

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  • Michael F. Lovenheim
  • C. Lockwood Reynolds

Abstract

We characterize changes over time in the choices high school graduates make concerning 2-year attendance, 4-year attendance, and college nonattendance across the joint income and ability distribution. We find that college nonattendance decreased substantially between cohorts for both men and women and that these declines were larger for higher-ability students. On the 2-year/4-year margin, there is evidence of growing ability constraints among women. Furthermore, income has become more important among higher-ability men, and increases in 2-year attendance among high-ability but low-income men come at the expense of 4-year college enrollment. State-level college costs explain little of the changes we document.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael F. Lovenheim & C. Lockwood Reynolds, 2011. "Changes in Postsecondary Choices by Ability and Income: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(1), pages 70-109.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jhucap:doi:10.1086/660123
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrews, Rodney & Li, Jing & Lovenheim, Michael F., 2014. "Heterogeneous paths through college: Detailed patterns and relationships with graduation and earnings," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 93-108.
    2. Lance Lochner & Alexander Monge-Naranjo, 2012. "Credit Constraints in Education," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 225-256, July.
    3. Michael F. Lovenheim & C. Lockwood Reynolds, 2013. "The Effect of Housing Wealth on College Choice: Evidence from the Housing Boom," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(1), pages 1-35.
    4. Lovenheim, Michael F. & Owens, Emily G., 2014. "Does federal financial aid affect college enrollment? Evidence from drug offenders and the Higher Education Act of 1998," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 1-13.
    5. Gonzalo Castex & Evgenia Kogan Dechter, 2014. "The Changing Roles of Education and Ability in Wage Determination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(4), pages 685-710.
    6. Tobias Meyer & Stephan L. Thomsen, 2016. "How Important Is Secondary School Duration for Postsecondary Education Decisions? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(1), pages 67-108.
    7. Bruce, Donald J. & Carruthers, Celeste K., 2014. "Jackpot? The impact of lottery scholarships on enrollment in Tennessee," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 30-44.
    8. Lockwood Reynolds, C., 2012. "Where to attend? Estimating the effects of beginning college at a two-year institution," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 345-362.
    9. Backes, Benjamin & Holzer, Harry J. & Dunlop Velez, Erin, 2014. "Is It Worth It? Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes for the Disadvantaged," IZA Discussion Papers 8474, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Johnson, Eric & Reynolds, C. Lockwood, 2013. "The effect of household hospitalizations on the educational attainment of youth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 165-182.
    11. Emanuela Ghignoni, 2015. "Family background and university dropouts during the crisis: the case of Italy," Working Papers 169, University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Public Economics.
    12. Liu, Vivian Y.T. & Belfield, Clive R. & Trimble, Madeline J., 2015. "The medium-term labor market returns to community college awards: Evidence from North Carolina," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 42-55.
    13. Robert B. Archibald & David H. Feldman & Peter McHenry, 2015. "A Quality-Preserving Increase in Four-Year College Attendance," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(3), pages 265-297.
    14. Robert B. Archibald & David H. Feldman & Peter McHenry, 2015. "A Quality-Preserving Increase in Four-Year College Attendance: Evidence from NLS-72 and ELS:2002," Working Papers 147, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
    15. Ben Backes & Harry Holzer & Erin Velez, 2015. "Is it worth it? Postsecondary education and labor market outcomes for the disadvantaged," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-30, December.

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