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Academic Performance and College Dropout: Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Estimate a Learning Model

  • Todd Stinebrickner
  • Ralph Stinebrickner

We estimate a dynamic learning model of the college dropout decision, taking advantage of unique expectations data to greatly reduce our reliance on assumptions that would otherwise be necessary for identification. We find that forty-five percent of the dropout that occurs in the first two years of college can be attributed to what students learn about their about academic performance, but that this type of learning becomes a less important determinant of dropout after the midpoint of college We use our model to quantify the importance of the possible avenues through which poor grade performance could influence dropout. Our simulations show that students who perform poorly tend to learn that staying in school is not worthwhile, not that they fail out or learn that they are more likely (than they previously believed) to fail out in the future. We find that poor performance both substantially decreases the enjoyability of school and substantially influences beliefs about post-college earnings.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18945.

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Date of creation: Apr 2013
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Publication status: published as Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner, 2014. "Academic Performance and College Dropout: Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Estimate a Learning Model," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 601 - 644.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18945
Note: ED LS
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  7. J. Dominitz & C. F. Manski, . "Eliciting student expectations of the returns to schooling," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1049-94, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
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  13. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2007. "The Effect of Credit Constraints on the College Drop-Out Decision: A Direct Approach Using a New Panel Study," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20071, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
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  23. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1994. "The solution and estimation of discrete choice dynamic programming models by simulation and interpolation: Monte Carlo evidence," Staff Report 181, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  24. Bound, John & Stinebrickner, Todd & Waidmann, Timothy, 2010. "Health, economic resources and the work decisions of older men," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 106-129, May.
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  26. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd R. Stinebrickner, 2014. "A Major in Science? Initial Beliefs and Final Outcomes for College Major and Dropout," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 426-472.
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  30. Jeff Dominitz, 1998. "Earnings Expectations, Revisions, And Realizations," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(3), pages 374-388, August.
  31. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2007. "The Causal Effect of Studying on Academic Performance," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20072, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
  32. Stinebrickner, Ralph & Stinebrickner, T.R.Todd R., 2004. "Time-use and college outcomes," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 243-269.
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  34. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2011. "Math or Science? Using Longitudinal Expectations Data to Examine the Process of Choosing a College Major," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20111, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
  35. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd R. Stinebrickner, 2003. "Understanding Educational Outcomes of Students from Low-Income Families: Evidence from a Liberal Arts College with a Full Tuition Subsidy Program," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(3).
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