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College Risk and Return

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  • Gonzalo Castex

Abstract

Attending college is thought of as a very profitable investment decision, as its estimated annualized return ranges from 8% to 13%. However, a large fraction of high school graduates do not enroll in college. I reconcile the observed high average returns to schooling with relatively low attendance rates when considering college as a risky investment decision. A high dropout risk has two important effects on the estimated average returns to college: selection bias and risk premium. In order to explicitly consider the selection bias, I explore the dropout risk in a life-cycle model with heterogeneous ability. The risk-premium of college participation accounts for 21% of the excess returns to college education for highability students and 19% of the excess return for low-ability students. Risk averse agents are willing to reduce their return to college in order to avoid the dropout risk. The effect is not uniform across ability levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Gonzalo Castex, 2011. "College Risk and Return," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 606, Central Bank of Chile.
  • Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchwp:606
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    Cited by:

    1. Gonzalo Castex, 2010. "Accounting for Changes in College Attendance Profile: a Quantitative Life-Cycle Analysis," Working Papers Central Bank of Chile 598, Central Bank of Chile.
    2. Kunz, Johannes S. & Staub, Kevin E., 2020. "Early subjective completion beliefs and the demand for post-secondary education," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 177(C), pages 34-55.
    3. Yongseok Shin & Sang Yoon Lee & Donghoon Lee, 2012. "The Option Value of Human Capital," 2012 Meeting Papers 1033, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Bernhard Eckwert & Itzhak Zilcha, 2020. "The role of colleges within the higher education sector," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 69(2), pages 315-336, March.
    5. Lutz Hendricks & Oksana Leukhina, 2017. "How Risky is College Investment?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 140-163, October.
    6. Johannes S. Kunz & Kevin E. Staub, 2016. "Subjective completion beliefs and the demand for post-secondary education," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0120, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    7. Lutz Hendricks & Oksana Leukhina, 2017. "How Risky is College Investment?," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 26, pages 140-163, October.
    8. Jaison R. Abel & Richard Deitz, 2013. "Do the benefits of college still outweigh the costs?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 20.

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