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Does Ignorance of Economic Returns and Costs Explain the Educational Aspiration Gap? Evidence from Representative Survey Experiments

Author

Listed:
  • Lergetporer, Philipp

    (University of Munich)

  • Werner, Katharina

    (University of Munich)

  • Woessmann, Ludger

    (University of Munich)

Abstract

The gap in university enrollment by parental education is large and persistent in many countries. In our representative survey, 74 percent of German university graduates, but only 36 percent of those without a university degree favor a university education for their children. The latter are more likely to underestimate returns and overestimate costs of university. Experimental provision of return and cost information significantly increases educational aspirations. However, it does not close the aspiration gap as university graduates respond even more strongly to the information treatment. Persistent effects in a follow-up survey indicate that participants indeed process and remember the information. Differences in economic preference parameters also cannot account for the educational aspiration gap. Our results cast doubt that ignorance of economic returns and costs explains educational inequality in Germany.

Suggested Citation

  • Lergetporer, Philipp & Werner, Katharina & Woessmann, Ludger, 2018. "Does Ignorance of Economic Returns and Costs Explain the Educational Aspiration Gap? Evidence from Representative Survey Experiments," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 371, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  • Handle: RePEc:cge:wacage:371
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lergetporer, Philipp & Werner, Katharina & Woessmann, Ludger, 2018. "Educational Inequality and Public Policy Preferences: Evidence From Representative Survey Experiments," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 110, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    2. Lergetporer, Philipp & Woessmann, Ludger, 2019. "The Political Economy of Higher Education Finance: How Information and Design Affect Public Preferences for Tuition," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 145, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    3. Frauke H. Peter & C. Katharina Spiess & Vaishali Zambre, 2018. "Informing Students about College: An Efficient Way to Decrease the Socio-Economic Gap in Enrollment: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1770, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Grewenig, Elisabeth & Lergetporer, Philipp & Simon, Lisa & Werner, Katharina & Woessmann, Ludger, 2018. "Can Online Surveys Represent the Entire Population?," IZA Discussion Papers 11799, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Philipp Lergetporer & Katharina Werner & Ludger Wößmann, 2017. "Public Opinion on Education Policy in Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 6602, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    inequality; higher education; university; aspiration; information; returns to education; survey experiment JEL Classification: D83; I24; J24; H75;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare

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