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

  • Philip S. Babcock
  • Mindy Marks

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15954.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15954.

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Date of creation: Apr 2010
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Publication status: published as Philip Babcock & Mindy Marks, 2011. "The Falling Time Cost of College: Evidence from Half a Century of Time Use Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 468-478, December.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15954
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  1. Elder, Todd E. & Goddeeris, John H. & Haider, Steven J., 2009. "Unexplained Gaps and Oaxaca-Blinder Decompositions," IZA Discussion Papers 4159, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Ehrenberg, R.G.Ronald G., 2004. "Econometric studies of higher education," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 19-37.
  3. Stacy Berg Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 7322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2000. "Working During School and Academic Performance," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 20009, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  6. Mark Aguiar & Erik Hurst, 2007. "Measuring Trends in Leisure: The Allocation of Time over Five Decades," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 969-1006, 08.
  7. Ronald Oaxaca, 1971. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," Working Papers 396, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. 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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