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College as Country Club: Do Colleges Cater to Students’ Preferences for Consumption?

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  • Brian Jacob
  • Brian McCall
  • Kevin Stange

Abstract

This paper investigates whether demand-side market pressure explains colleges’ decisions to provide consumption amenities to their students. Using a discrete choice model of college demand, we find that most students appear to value consumption amenities, such as operating spending on student activities, sports, and dormitories, while the taste for academic quality is confined to high-achieving students. Heterogeneity in student preferences creates variation in demand pressure across institutions, which we estimate can account for 11% of the total variation in the ratio of amenity to academic spending across 4-year colleges in the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Jacob & Brian McCall & Kevin Stange, 2018. "College as Country Club: Do Colleges Cater to Students’ Preferences for Consumption?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 309-348.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/694654
    DOI: 10.1086/694654
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy

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