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Avoiding Tunnel Vision in the Study of Higher Education Costs


  • Robert B. Archibald

    () (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)

  • David H. Feldman

    () (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary)


Much of the literature on the causes of rising costs in higher education focuses on specific features and pathologies of decision-making within colleges and universities. We argue that this inward-looking focus on the specifics of higher education as an industry is a form of tunnel vision that can lead to poor public policy decisions. In this paper we show that cost disease and capital-skill complementarity are two crucially important causes of rising costs in higher education. These two economy-wide forces are something higher education shares with other skilled-labor-intensive services.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert B. Archibald & David H. Feldman, 2007. "Avoiding Tunnel Vision in the Study of Higher Education Costs," Working Papers 53, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:53

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alexander Pfaff & Chris William Sanchirico, 2004. "Big field, small potatoes: An empirical assessment of EPA's self-audit policy," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(3), pages 415-432.
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    4. Michael W. Toffel, 2008. "Coerced Confessions: Self-Policing in the Shadow of the Regulator," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 45-71, May.
    5. Mary Evans & Lirong Liu & Sarah Stafford, 2011. "Do environmental audits improve long-term compliance? Evidence from manufacturing facilities in Michigan," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 279-302, December.
    6. Laplante, Benoit & Rilstone, Paul, 1996. "Environmental Inspections and Emissions of the Pulp and Paper Industry in Quebec," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 19-36, July.
    7. Wilde, Joachim, 2000. "Identification of multiple equation probit models with endogenous dummy regressors," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 309-312, December.
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    More about this item


    discrete games; cost disease; capital-skill complementarity;

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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