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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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  4. Dynarski, Susan, 2004. "The New Merit Aid," Working Paper Series rwp04-009, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    • 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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  11. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
  12. Alan Krueger & Diane Whitmore, 2000. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," NBER Working Papers 7656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  17. 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.
  18. Gruber, Jon & Saez, Emmanuel, 2002. "The elasticity of taxable income: evidence and implications," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-32, April.
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  22. Kane, Thomas J & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1995. "Labor-Market Returns to Two- and Four-Year College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 600-614, June.
  23. Christopher M. Cornwell & Kyung Hee Lee & David B. Mustard, 2005. "Student Responses to Merit Scholarship Retention Rules," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 895-917.
  24. Becker, Gary S., 1994. "Human Capital," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 3, number 9780226041209.
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  27. Joshua D. Angrist, 1993. "The Effect of Veterans Benefits on Education and Earnings," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 637-652, July.
  28. 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.
  29. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
  30. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2001. "Understanding Educational Outcomes of Students from Low Income Families: Evidence from a Liberal Arts College with a Full Tuition Subsidy Program," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20014, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
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  32. Susan Dynarski, 2002. "The Behavioral and Distributional Implications of Aid for College," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 279-285, May.
  33. Sarah Turner, 2004. "Going to College and Finishing College.Explaining Different Educational Outcomes," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 13-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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