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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," Working Papers 0209, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
    2. Carlos Garriga & Mark P. Keightley, 2013. "A General Equilibrium Theory of College with Education Subsidies, In-School Labor Supply, and Borrowing Constraints," Working Papers 2013-002, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    3. Akyol, Ahmet & Athreya, Kartik, 2005. "Risky higher education and subsidies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 979-1023, June.
    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. 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.
    6. Brant Abbott & Giovanni Gallipoli & Costas Meghir & Gianluca Violante, 2013. "Education policy and intergenerational transfers in equilibrium," IFS Working Papers W13/17, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    7. David Card, 2000. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," NBER Working Papers 7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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.
    9. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    10. Giovanni L. Violante & Costas Meghir & Giovanni Gallipoli, 2008. "Equilibrium Effects of Education Policies: a Quantitative Evaluation," 2008 Meeting Papers 868, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    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. Philippe Belley & Lance Lochner, 2008. "The Changing Role of Family Income and Ability in Determining Educational Achievement," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20081, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
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