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The Returns to Education at Community Colleges: New Evidence from the Education Longitudinal Survey

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  • Marcotte, Dave E.

    (American University)

Abstract

Community colleges have long been recognized for their potential in providing access to post-secondary education for students of limited means. Indeed, the recent #FreeTuition movement is built on community colleges as a cornerstone. Previous research on the value of community colleges in shaping earnings and career outcomes suggests that encouraging access to community college is a good investment. But, the evidence base on this issue is limited. The main limitations stem from the fact that what we know comes from data collected from cohorts of students who studied in community colleges more than twenty years ago. In the meantime, the market for higher education has changed drastically, and the Great Recession and economy of the early 21st Century have reshaped how young Americans are educated and begin their careers. For these reasons, I update the evidence on the employment and earnings effects of community college education. I study the experiences of the Educational Longitudinal Survey (ELS) cohort, which graduated from high school and began studying in community colleges at the start of the Great Recession, and who began their working careers in the years after. The experiences of this cohort are important in their own right, since they provide insight into the experiences of American workers during and after one of the largest economic downturns in modern history. Moreover, this paper will provide insight into the role post-secondary education plays in shaping economic security more generally.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcotte, Dave E., 2016. "The Returns to Education at Community Colleges: New Evidence from the Education Longitudinal Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 10202, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10202
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    Cited by:

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    2. Ferreyra,Maria Marta & Galindo,Camila & Urzúa,Sergio, 2021. "Labor Market Effects of Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs : Lessons from Colombia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9717, The World Bank.
    3. Lauren Schudde & Meghan Shea, 2022. "Heterogeneity in the Returns to Credits for Public Two-Year College Entrants," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 63(2), pages 337-367, March.
    4. Gaulke, Amanda P., 2021. "Post-Schooling off-The-Job training and its benefits," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    5. William N. Evans & Melissa S. Kearney & Brendan Perry & James X. Sullivan, 2020. "Increasing Community College Completion Rates Among Low‐Income Students: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial Evaluation of a Case‐Management Intervention," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(4), pages 930-965, September.
    6. Judith Scott-Clayton & Qiao Wen, 2019. "Estimating Returns to College Attainment: Comparing Survey and State Administrative Data–Based Estimates," Evaluation Review, , vol. 43(5), pages 266-306, October.
    7. Ghulam Mustafa, 2023. "Is the Decision to Obtain Higher Education in Pakistan Worth Repaying? New Evidence from Returns on Education for Paid-Employees," PIDE-Working Papers 2023:6, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    8. Carruthers, Celeste K. & Sanford, Thomas, 2018. "Way station or launching pad? Unpacking the returns to adult technical education," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 146-159.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    community college; education;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education

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