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Building the Stock of College-Educated Labor

  • Dynarski, Susan

    (Harvard U)

Half of college students drop out before completing a degree. These low rates of college completion among young people should be viewed in the context of slow future growth in the educated labor force, as the well-educated baby boomers retire and new workers are drawn from populations with historically low education levels. This paper establishes a causal link between college costs and the share of workers with a college education. I exploit the introduction of two large tuition subsidy programs, finding that they increase the share of the population that completes a college degree by three percentage points. The effects are strongest among women, with white women increasing degree receipt by 3.2 percentage points and the share of nonwhite women attempting or completing any years of college increasing by six and seven percentage points, respectively. A cost-benefit analysis indicates that tuition reduction can be a socially efficient method for increasing college completion. However, even with the offer of free tuition, a large share of students continue to drop out, suggesting that the direct costs of school are not the only impediment to college completion.

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Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp05-050.

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Date of creation: Aug 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp05-050
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  3. Dynarski, Susan, 2001. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," Working Paper Series rwp01-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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  8. John Bound & Sarah E. Turner, 1999. "Going to War and Going to College: Did World War II and the G.I. Bill Increase Educational Attainment for Returning Veterans?," NBER Working Papers 7452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. David Card, 2000. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," NBER Working Papers 7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  22. Susan Dynarski, 2004. "The New Merit Aid," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 63-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  24. Christopher M. Cornwell & David B. Mustard & Deepa Sridhar, 2005. "The Enrollment Effects of Merit-Based Financial Aid: Evidence from Georgia's HOPE Scholarship," HEW 0501002, EconWPA.
  25. Becker, Gary S., 1994. "Human Capital," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 3, number 9780226041209.
  26. Dynarski, Susan, 2000. "Hope for Whom? Financial Aid for the Middle Class and Its Impact on College Attendance," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 3), pages 629-62, September.
  27. Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Relationship Between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 189-221.
  28. John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2006. "Cohort Crowding: How Resources Affect Collegiate Attainment," NBER Working Papers 12424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Susan Dynarski, 2000. "Hope for Whom? Financial Aid for the Middle Class and Its Impact on College Attendance," NBER Working Papers 7756, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page & Ann Huff Stevens, 2003. "Does Human Capital Transfer from Parent to Child? The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," NBER Working Papers 10164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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