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The Impact of Employment during School on College Student Academic Performance


  • Jeffrey S. DeSimone


This paper estimates the effect of paid employment on grades of full-time, four-year students from four nationally representative cross sections of the Harvard College Alcohol Study administered during 1993-2001. The relationship could be causal in either direction and is likely contaminated by unobserved heterogeneity. Two-stage GMM regressions instrument for work hours using paternal schooling and being raised Jewish, which are hypothesized to reflect parental preferences towards education manifested in additional student financial support but not influence achievement conditional on maternal schooling, college and class. Extensive empirical testing supports the identifying assumptions of instrument strength and orthogonality. GMM results show that an additional weekly work hour reduces current year GPA by about 0.011 points, roughly five times more than the OLS coefficient but somewhat less than recent estimates. Effects are stable across specifications, time, gender, class and age, but vary by health status, maternal schooling, religious background and especially race/ethnicity.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeffrey S. DeSimone, 2008. "The Impact of Employment during School on College Student Academic Performance," NBER Working Papers 14006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14006
    Note: ED LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Regula Geel & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2010. "Earning While Learning: Labor Market Returns to Student Employment During Tertiary Education," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0049, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    2. Flannery, Darragh & O’Donoghue, Cathal, 2013. "The demand for higher education: A static structural approach accounting for individual heterogeneity and nesting patterns," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 243-257.
    3. Scott-Clayton, Judith, 2012. "What Explains Trends in Labor Supply Among U.S. Undergraduates?," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 65(1), pages 181-210, March.
    4. Steven Brint and Allison M. Cantwell, 2011. "ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES AND THE UNDERGRADUATE EXPERIENCE: Rethinking Bok’s “Underachieving Colleges†Thesis," University of California at Berkeley, Center for Studies in Higher Education qt83q89897, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley.
    5. Scott-Clayton, Judith & Minaya, Veronica, 2016. "Should student employment be subsidized? Conditional counterfactuals and the outcomes of work-study participation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 1-18.
    6. Neyt, Brecht & Omey, Eddy & Verhaest, Dieter & Baert, Stijn, 2017. "Does Student Work Really Affect Educational Outcomes? A Review of the Literature," GLO Discussion Paper Series 121, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    7. Angela Boatman & Bridget Terry Long, 2016. "Does Financial Aid Impact College Student Engagement?," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 57(6), pages 653-681, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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