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The Economics of Online Postsecondary Education: MOOCs, Nonselective Education, and Highly Selective Education

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  • Caroline M. Hoxby

Abstract

I consider how online postsecondary education, including massive open online courses (MOOCs), might fit into economically sustainable models of postsecondary education. I contrast nonselective postsecondary education (NSPE)in which institutions sell fairly standardized educational services in return for up-front payments and highly selective postsecondary education (HSPE) in which institutions invest in students in return for repayments much later in life. The analysis suggests that MOOCs will be financially sustainable substitutes for some NSPE, but there are risks even in these situations. The analysis suggests that MOOCs will be financially sustainable substitutes for only a small share of HSPE and are likely to collapse the economic model that allows HSPE institutions to invest in advanced education and research. I outline a non-MOOC model of online education that may allow HSPE institutions both to sustain their distinctive activities and to reach a larger number of students.

Suggested Citation

  • Caroline M. Hoxby, 2014. "The Economics of Online Postsecondary Education: MOOCs, Nonselective Education, and Highly Selective Education," NBER Working Papers 19816, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19816
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    1. Kim, E. Han & Morse, Adair & Zingales, Luigi, 2009. "Are elite universities losing their competitive edge?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3), pages 353-381, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Benjamin Faber & Rosa Sanchis-Guarner & Felix Weinhardt, 2015. "ICT and Education: Evidence from Student Home Addresses," SERC Discussion Papers 0186, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. Allen R. Sanderson & John J. Siegfried, 2015. "The Case for Paying College Athletes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 29(1), pages 115-138, Winter.
    3. Emilie Dargaud & Frédéric Jouneau-Sion, 2019. "The good MOOC and the universities," Working Papers halshs-01996582, HAL.
    4. Armona, Luis & Chakrabarti, Rajashri & Lovenheim, Michael F., 2022. "Student debt and default: The role of for-profit colleges," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 67-92.
    5. Luis Armona & Rajashri Chakrabarti & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2018. "How Does For-profit College Attendance Affect Student Loans, Defaults and Labor Market Outcomes?," NBER Working Papers 25042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Allen R. Sanderson & John J. Siegfried, 2018. "The National Collegiate Athletic Association Cartel: Why it Exists, How it Works, and What it Does," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 52(2), pages 185-209, March.
    7. John J. Cheslock & Ozan Jaquette, 2022. "Concentrated or Fragmented? The U.S. Market for Online Higher Education," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 63(1), pages 33-59, February.
    8. David J. Deming & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz & Noam Yuchtman, 2015. "Can Online Learning Bend the Higher Education Cost Curve?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 496-501, May.
    9. Paul Belleflamme & Julien Jacqmin, 2016. "An Economic Appraisal of MOOC Platforms: Business Models and Impacts on Higher Education," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 62(1), pages 148-169.
    10. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2018. "Online Postsecondary Education and the Higher Education Tax Benefits: An Analysis with Implications for Tax Administration," Tax Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 45-106.
    11. Wei Gu & Ying Xu & Zeng-Jun Sun, 2021. "Does MOOC Quality Affect Users’ Continuance Intention? Based on an Integrated Model," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(22), pages 1-16, November.
    12. Emilie Dargaud & Frédéric Jouneau-Sion, 2019. "The good MOOC and the universities," Working Papers 1905, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A2 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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