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What Explains Trends in Labor Supply Among U.S. Undergraduates, 1970-2009?

  • Judith Scott-Clayton
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    Recent cohorts of college enrollees are more likely to work, and work substantially more, than those of the past. October CPS data reveal that average labor supply among 18 to 22-year-old full-time undergraduates nearly doubled between 1970 and 2000, rising from 6 hours to 11 hours per week. In 2000 over half of these "traditional" college students were working for pay in the reference week, and the average working student worked 22 hours per week. After 2000, labor supply leveled off and then fell abruptly in the wake of the Great Recession to an average of 8 hours per week in 2009. This paper considers several explanations for the long-term trend of rising employment--including compositional change and rising tuition costs--and considers whether the upward trend is likely to resume when economic conditions improve.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17744.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17744.

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    Date of creation: Jan 2012
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    Publication status: published as “What Explains Trends in Labor Supply Among U.S. Undergraduates?” National Tax Journal 65(1): 181-210.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17744
    Note: ED LS
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Light, Audrey, 2001. "In-School Work Experience and the Returns to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 65-93, January.
    2. 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.
    3. Charlene Kalenkoski & Sabrina Pabilonia, 2010. "Parental transfers, student achievement, and the labor supply of college students," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 469-496, March.
    4. 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.
    5. Bound, John & Turner, Sarah, 2007. "Cohort crowding: How resources affect collegiate attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 877-899, June.
    6. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 2001. "The Effect of Parental Transfers and Borrowing Constraints on Educational Attainment," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1051-1103, November.
    7. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2004. "College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number hoxb04-1.
    8. John Bound & Michael F. Lovenheim & Sarah Turner, 2010. "Increasing Time to Baccalaureate Degree in the United States," NBER Working Papers 15892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 2004. "Introduction to "College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It"," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. John H. Tyler, 2003. "Using State Child Labor Laws to Identify the Effect of School-Year Work on High School Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 353-380, April.
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