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General Equilibrium Treatment Effects: A Study of Tuition Policy

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  • James J. Heckman
  • Lance Lochner
  • Christopher Taber

Abstract

This paper defines and estimates general equilibrium treatment effects. The conventional approach in the literature on treatment effects ignores interactions among individuals induced by the policy interventions being studied. Focusing on the impact of tuition policy, and using estimates from our dynamic overlapping generations general equilibrium model of capital and human capital formation, we find that general equilibrium impacts of tuition on college enrollment are an order of magnitude smaller than those reported in the literature on microeconomic treatment effects. The assumptions used to justify the LATE parameter in a partial equilibrium setting do not hold in a general equilibrium setting. Policy changes induce two way flows. We extend the LATE concept to a general equilibrium setting. We present a more comprehensive evaluation to program evaluation by considering both the tax and benefit consequences of the program being evaluated and placing the analysis in a market setting.

Suggested Citation

  • James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "General Equilibrium Treatment Effects: A Study of Tuition Policy," NBER Working Papers 6426, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6426
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    1. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
    2. Heckman, James J. & Robb, Richard Jr., 1985. "Alternative methods for evaluating the impact of interventions : An overview," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 239-267.
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