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Macroeconomic implications of competitive college admissions

  • Murat F. Iyigun
  • Andrew T. Levin

We present a public higher education model in which there exist indivisibilities in educational investment. Consequently, when demand for educational services exceed supply, a screening mechanism, which may potentially be imperfect, is required to choose the student body. We demonstrate how distortions or biases in screening--caused by parental factors--interact with the distribution of income to help explain the considerable differences across countries in the share of resources devoted to public higher education. Moderate degrees of admission bias lower the share of resources devoted to public education whereas higher levels of bias may have positive effects on public education supply. Thus, while lower screening biases lead to a better allocation of a given amount of spending on education, they do not necessarily lead to more political support for public education, and thereby to higher aggregate human capital and output. When wage rates are endogenous, the effects of screening biases on public higher education supply can be positive even for smaller biases. Moreover, higher inequality will lead to a lower share of resources devoted to public higher education when biases are relatively moderate.

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File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/ifdp/1998/613/default.htm
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File URL: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/ifdp/1998/613/ifdp613.pdf
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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 613.

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Date of creation: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:613
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  1. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 1994. "On the political economy of education subsidies," Staff Report 185, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Glomm, Gerhard & Ravikumar, B, 1992. "Public versus Private Investment in Human Capital Endogenous Growth and Income Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(4), pages 818-34, August.
  3. Mark Gradstein & Moshe Justman, . "Democratic Choice of an Education System: Implications for Growth and Income Distribution," CARESS Working Papres 97-05, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  4. Stiglitz, J. E., 1974. "The demand for education in public and private school systems," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 349-385, November.
  5. Perotti, Roberto, 1994. "Income distribution and investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 827-835, April.
  6. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
  7. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Unequal Societies," NBER Working Papers 5583, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Radner, Roy & Miller, L S, 1970. "Demand and Supply in U. S. Higher Education: A Progress Report," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(2), pages 326-34, May.
  9. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Fernández, Raquel, 1998. "Education and Borrowing Constraints: Tests Vs. Prices," CEPR Discussion Papers 1913, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Peltzman, Sam, 1973. "The Effect of Government Subsidies-in-Kind on Private Expenditures: The Case of Higher Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(1), pages 1-27, Jan.-Feb..
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