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College Risk and Return

  • Gonzalo Castex
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    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.

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    Paper provided by Central Bank of Chile in its series Working Papers Central Bank of Chile with number 606.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchwp:606
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    1. Diego Restuccia & Carlos Urrutia, 2002. "Intergenerational Persistence of Earnings: The Role of Early and College Education," University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute Working Papers 20024, University of Western Ontario, Economic Policy Research Institute.
    2. Brant Abbott & Giovanni Gallipoli & Costas Meghir & Giovanni L. Violante, 2013. "Education Policy and Intergenerational Transfers in Equilibrium," Working Paper Series 15_13, The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    3. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
    4. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James & Masterov, Dimitriy, 2004. "Labor market discrimination and racial differences in premarket factors," Working Paper Series 2005:3, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    5. Mark P. Keightley & Carlos Garriga, 2009. "A General Equilibrium Theory of College with Education Subsidies, In-School Labor Supply, and Borrowing Constraints," 2009 Meeting Papers 1180, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
    7. Akyol, Ahmet & Athreya, Kartik, 2005. "Risky higher education and subsidies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 979-1023, June.
    8. Philippe Belley & Lance Lochner, 2007. "The Changing Role of Family Income and Ability in Determining Educational Achievement," Working Papers 2011-037, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    9. Felicia Ionescu, 2009. "The Federal Student Loan Program: Quantitative Implications for College Enrollment and Default Rates," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 12(1), pages 205-231, January.
    10. David Card, 2000. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," NBER Working Papers 7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2007. "The Race between Education and Technology: The Evolution of U.S. Educational Wage Differentials, 1890 to 2005," NBER Working Papers 12984, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Gianluca Violante & Giovanni Gallipoli & Costas Meghir, 2005. "Education Decisions, Equilibrium Policies and Wages Dispersion," 2005 Meeting Papers 522, Society for Economic Dynamics.
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