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The Labor-Market Returns to Community College Degrees, Diplomas, and Certificates

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  • Christopher Jepsen
  • Kenneth Troske
  • Paul Coomes

Abstract

This article provides one of the first rigorous estimations of the labor-market returns to community college certificates and diplomas, as well as estimations of the returns to the more commonly studied associate's degrees. Using administrative data from Kentucky, we estimate panel-data models that control for differences among students in precollege earnings and educational aspirations. Associate's degrees and diplomas have quarterly earnings returns of nearly $2,400 for women and $1,500 for men, compared with much smaller returns for certificates. There is substantial heterogeneity in returns across fields of study. Degrees, diplomas, and--for women--certificates correspond with higher levels of employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Jepsen & Kenneth Troske & Paul Coomes, 2014. "The Labor-Market Returns to Community College Degrees, Diplomas, and Certificates," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 95-121.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/671809
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jacobson, Louis & LaLonde, Robert & G. Sullivan, Daniel, 2005. "Estimating the returns to community college schooling for displaced workers," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 271-304.
    2. Duane E. Leigh & Andrew M. Gill, 1997. "Labor Market Returns to Community Colleges: Evidence for Returning Adults," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 334-353.
    3. Christopher Jepsen & Kenneth Troske & Paul Coomes, 2014. "The Labor-Market Returns to Community College Degrees, Diplomas, and Certificates," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 95-121.
    4. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588, January.
    5. O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), 1999. "Handbook of Labor Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
    6. Kevin M. Stange, 2012. "An Empirical Investigation of the Option Value of College Enrollment," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 49-84, January.
    7. Kevin Lang & Russell Weinstein, 2012. "Evaluating Student Outcomes at For-Profit Colleges," NBER Working Papers 18201, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Grubb, W. Norton, 2002. "Learning and earning in the middle, part II: state and local studies of pre-baccalaureate education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 401-414, October.
    9. Grubb, W. Norton, 2002. "Learning and earning in the middle, part I: national studies of pre-baccalaureate education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 299-321, August.
    10. Norton Grubb, W., 1997. "The returns to education in the sub-baccalaureate labor market, 1984-1990," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 231-245, June.
    11. Louis Jacobson & Robert J. Lalonde & Daniel Sullivan, 2005. "The Impact of Community College Retraining on Older Displaced Workers: Should We Teach Old Dogs New Tricks?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 58(3), pages 398-415, April.
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    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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