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Is Investing in College Education Risky?

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  • Stacey Chen

Abstract

Attending college seems to be a profitable and affordable investment in the US. Nevertheless, a number of academically talented young people still hesitate to attend college. This puzzle motivates this paper to test for whether college education is a risky investment. To measure the riskiness of college attendance, I estimate the risk differential in earnings between college attendees and high school graduates. This paper copes with selection bias problems and distinguishes permanent earnings risk from transitory earnings risks. Evidence indicates that investing in a four-year college education is indeed risky, suggesting that, under certain circumstances, the riskiness of college attendance is an important factor in the schooling choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Stacey Chen, 2001. "Is Investing in College Education Risky?," Discussion Papers 01-09, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:nya:albaec:01-09
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    File URL: http://www.albany.edu/economics/research/workingp/2001/Risky.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Shea, John, 2000. "Does parents' money matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 155-184, August.
    7. Kane, Thomas J, 1994. "College Entry by Blacks since 1970: The Role of College Costs, Family Background, and the Returns to Education," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 878-911, October.
    8. Olson, Lawrence & White, Halbert & Shefrin, H M, 1979. "Optimal Investment in Schooling when Incomes are Risky," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(3), pages 522-539, June.
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    13. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 1999. "Assessing the effect of schooling on earnings using a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W99/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Joop Hartog & Luis Díaz-Serrano, 2007. "Earnings risk and demand for higher education: A cross-section test for Spain," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 10, pages 1-28, May.
    2. Migali, Giuseppe, 2006. "Funding Higher Education and Wage Uncertainty: Income Contingent Loan Versus Mortgate Loan," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 740, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    3. Philip Oreopoulos, 2006. "Estimating Average and Local Average Treatment Effects of Education when Compulsory Schooling Laws Really Matter," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 152-175, March.
    4. Luis Diaz-Serrano & Joop Hartog & Helena Skyt Nielsen, 2008. "Compensating Wage Differentials for Schooling Risk in Denmark," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(4), pages 711-731, December.
    5. Eckel, Catherine & Johnson, Cathleen & Montmarquette, Claude, 2013. "Human capital investment by the poor: Informing policy with laboratory experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 224-239.
    6. Migali, Giuseppe, 2012. "Funding higher education and wage uncertainty: Income contingent loan versus mortgage loan," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 871-889.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Schooling; Risk Differential; Risk Premium; Selection Bias.;

    JEL classification:

    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions; Probabilities
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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