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Are Universities Becoming More Unequal?

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  • Yan Lau
  • Harvey S. Rosen

Abstract

Observers have expressed concern about growing inequality in resources across universities. But are universities really becoming more unequal? We argue that the typical approach of examining endowment growth alone is not sensible. In line with the literature on household inequality, we focus instead on a comprehensive income measure. We find that although there is considerable inequality among institutions, concerns about the inexorable growth of inequality are overblown. Whether one looks at income, endowment wealth, or expenditure, inequality has been high but stable, exhibiting only negligible increases in recent years. Furthermore, there has been little mobility within the higher education sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Yan Lau & Harvey S. Rosen, 2015. "Are Universities Becoming More Unequal?," NBER Working Papers 21432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21432
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jeffrey R. Brown & Stephen G. Dimmock & Jun-Koo Kang & Scott J. Weisbenner, 2014. "How University Endowments Respond to Financial Market Shocks: Evidence and Implications," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 931-962, March.
    2. Ehrenberg, R. G. & Smith, C. L., 2003. "The sources and uses of annual giving at selective private research universities and liberal arts colleges," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 223-235, June.
    3. William N. Goetzmann & Sharon Oster, 2013. "Competition among University Endowments," NBER Chapters, in: How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education, pages 99-126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Raj Chetty & Nathaniel Hendren & Patrick Kline & Emmanuel Saez & Nicholas Turner, 2014. "Is the United States Still a Land of Opportunity? Recent Trends in Intergenerational Mobility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 141-147, May.
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    6. Philip Armour & Richard V. Burkhauser & Jeff Larrimore, 2013. "Deconstructing Income and Income Inequality Measures: A Crosswalk from Market Income to Comprehensive Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 173-177, May.
    7. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar & Jialan Wang, 2008. "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 207-222, Summer.
    8. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1982. "Stochastic Dominance, Mean Variance, and Gini's Mean Difference," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 178-185, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Harvey S. Rosen & Alexander J. W. Sappington, 2016. "What Do University Endowment Managers Worry About? An Analysis of Alternative Asset Investments and Background Income," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(4), pages 404-425, Fall.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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