Labor Market Returns to Community Colleges: Evidence for Returning Adults
Kane and Rouse (1993) furnish evidence that enrollment in a two-year-or four-year-college program increases earnings by 5 to 8 percent per year of college credits, whether or not a degree is earned. This evidence has provided the intellectual basis for policy recommendations to increase access by adult workers to long-term education and training programs, such as those supplied by community colleges. Yet to be answered, however, is the question whether these favorable return estimates hold for experienced adult workers who return to school. For both A.A. and nondegree community college programs, our results indicate returns that are positive and of essentially the same size for returning adults as they are for continuing high school graduates. Among males in nondegree programs, in fact, returning adults enjoy an incremental earnings effect of 8 to 10 percent above that received by continuing students.
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