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The Falling Time Cost of College: Evidence from Half a Century of Time Use Data

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  • Philip S. Babcock
  • Mindy Marks

Abstract

Using multiple datasets from different time periods, we document declines in academic time investment by full-time college students in the United States between 1961 and 2003. Full-time students allocated 40 hours per week toward class and studying in 1961, whereas by 2003 they were investing about 27 hours per week. Declines were extremely broad-based, and are not easily accounted for by framing effects, work or major choices, or compositional changes in students or schools. We conclude that there have been substantial changes over time in the quantity or manner of human capital production on college campuses.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip S. Babcock & Mindy Marks, 2010. "The Falling Time Cost of College: Evidence from Half a Century of Time Use Data," NBER Working Papers 15954, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15954
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Elder, Todd E. & Goddeeris, John H. & Haider, Steven J., 2010. "Unexplained gaps and Oaxaca-Blinder decompositions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 284-290, January.
    3. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd R. Stinebrickner, 2003. "Working during School and Academic Performance," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 449-472, April.
    4. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    5. Stacy Berg Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2002. "Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1491-1527.
    6. Ehrenberg, R.G.Ronald G., 2004. "Econometric studies of higher education," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 19-37.
    7. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time Over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006.
    8. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Daniel R. Sherman, 1987. "Employment While in College, Academic Achievement, and Postcollege Outcomes: A Summary of Results," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(1), pages 1-23.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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